Why Stay Together? State Nationalism and Justifications for State Unity in Spain and the UK



Brown Swan C & Cetrà D (2020) Why Stay Together? State Nationalism and Justifications for State Unity in Spain and the UK. Nationalism and Ethnic Politics, 26 (1), pp. 46-65.

This paper examines the way party elites in the UK and Spain discursively construct the nation and justify state integrity in the face of resurgent Catalan and Scottish demands for self-determination and independence. While in each case there is a plurality of conceptions of the state, in Spain the demos is predominantly defined as a single, indivisible nation of equal citizens while in the UK the focus is typically on a plurinational Union. This, we contend, shapes the arguments made in favor of state unity. The dominant case for state integrity in Spain is more negative, focused primarily on the unconstitutionality of independence and delegitimizing the independence agenda. In the UK, the predominant appeal to the Union is more positive and instrumental: as the country is perceived as a partnership entered into willingly, a case must be made for its continuation. This paper seeks to contribute to the understanding of state nationalism and political dynamics in plurinational states by shedding light on the ways in which party elites understand and legitimize the state at moments of profound internal challenge.

Political Science and International Relations; Geography, Planning and Development

Nationalism and Ethnic Politics: Volume 26, Issue 1

FundersUniversity of Edinburgh
Publication date31/12/2020
Publication date online28/02/2020
PublisherInforma UK Limited

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Dr Coree Brown Swan

Dr Coree Brown Swan

Lecturer in Politics, Politics