|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.