Why National Minorities Mobilize and Why States Grant Self-rule. A Comparative Analysis of Autonomy Building in Western Europe

Project: ResearchDissertation project, Research


Most Western European states have a heterogeneous national population
and face the challenge of finding the appropriate level of recognition for their
historic national minorities. In practice, the institutional and political
arrangements vary greatly. When focusing on self-rule autonomy, the
literature distinguishes three general scenarios: (1) national minorities claim
and obtain autonomy, (2) national minorities claim but do not obtain
autonomy, and (3) national minorities do not even claim autonomy. Existing
studies focus especially on the first scenario, fewer on the other two and
most of them are individual case studies. To fully understand why national
diversity is handled so differently – even in a Western European context
where states defend common democratic standards entrenched in several
conventions – a systematic cross-case comparison is needed. The goals of
this research project are to study (i) why national minorities have claimed
self-governance rights (and why they do not) and (ii) why they succeed in
their mobilization (and why they do not). The research design combines two
sequences of analysis. (1) A Qualitative Comparative Analysis (QCA) will
study under which general conditions national minorities (51 in total) have
claimed and obtained self-governance rights. (2) In-depth Qualitative Case
Studies for one case in each scenario seeking to understand which sociohistorical
processes and group actors’ motivations were at the origin of both
minority claims and conferred rights (or lack thereof) by their state.
Short titleNational Minorities and Self-rule
Effective start/end date1/01/1831/12/19


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