National diversity and social cohesion: the impact of Scottish devolution on social and political cohesion in Britain
Within a number of Western nation-states, internal national minorities are advancing demands for political recognition and a measure of autonomy short of full independence. General acceptance of democratic ideals places pressure on these states to accede to such demands and devolve political power to national minorities. This thesis examines the consequences that this process implies for political and social cohesion in nationally diverse states; does the formal political recognition of national diversity facilitate the integration of the state? Can nationally diverse societies generate and maintain the bonds of social solidarity that are necessary if they are to bind together effectively? Part One of the thesis examines these issues from a theoretical perspective; drawing on a range of existing analyses, from both classical and contemporary literature, the concepts of state, nation, sovereignty, self-determination and social cohesion are subject to detailed examination with a view to understanding how they shape the political demands of national minorities and what the most implications of these demands are. Part Two aims at further interrogating these theoretical claims through an empirical analysis of the Scottish devolution in 1999, established in 1999, and the impact it has on political and social cohesion in Britain. This involves an investigation into the historical development of a distinct Scottish nation, its evolving relationship with the British state and the concept of ‘Britishness’, and the factors accounting for the rise of Scottish nationalism in the second half of the twentieth century. Finally, the devolution settlement itself is made the central focus of analysis, and the questions of its impact on the future political stability of Britain as a single state and on the social cohesion of British society are examined with reference to existing literature on devolution, survey data provided by the British and Scottish Social Attitude surveys, and an analysis of significant discourses of nationbuilding in the speeches of a number of important political figures.
- Theses