Transitions Research seminar - Christoph Niessen presents the results of his PhD thesis

"When sub-state communities demand and obtain autonomy : A comparative analysis of sub-state mobilisation and restructuring in Belgium, Spain and the United Kingdom". The presentation aims at publicly presenting the results of Christoph Niessen's PhD at the University of Namur. The public defence will take place at the University of Louvain (UCL).
  • Transitions Research seminar - Christoph Niessen presents the results of his PhD thesis
  • 2021-06-09T12:45:00+02:00
  • 2021-06-09T13:45:00+02:00
  • "When sub-state communities demand and obtain autonomy : A comparative analysis of sub-state mobilisation and restructuring in Belgium, Spain and the United Kingdom". The presentation aims at publicly presenting the results of Christoph Niessen's PhD at the University of Namur. The public defence will take place at the University of Louvain (UCL).
  • When Jun 09, 2021 from 12:45 PM to 01:45 PM (Europe/Brussels / UTC200)
  • Where Teams (via Internet link)
  • Contact Name
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When do sub-state communities demand autonomy and when do states accept to confer it? This question is at the centre of the dissertation that examines under which conditions sub-state mobilisation and sub-state restructuring have occurred in three typical cases of centrifugal sociological decentralisation: Belgium, Spain and the United Kingdom. Through a reassessment of sociological, economic, institutionalist, functionalist and rational-choice factors that the literature had hitherto found relevant, the research systemically compared in which combination of these factors, autonomy demands and statutes of sub-state communities arose and evolved. In order to do so, a refined measurement of sub-state autonomy called Sub-state Autonomy Scale (SAS) was created and a new variant of Qualitative Comparative Analysis (QCA) that is suitable for longitudinal comparisons was developed.

The results of the analyses indicate that the rise and increase of autonomy demands and statutes were driven by a combination of sociological (and economic) and rational-choice factors for strongly distinctive and aggrieved sub-state communities. For sub-state communities with weaker distinctiveness and grievances to which the demands and statutes of the former have spilled over, combinations of sociological, functionalist, institutionalist and rational-choice factors were found relevant. These dynamics can be interpreted as two ‘waves’ of centrifugal sociological decentralisation, the first of which came with autonomy demands and statutes in sub-state communities with strong sociological distinctiveness that, in turn, incited a second wave among sub-state communities with weaker (albeit present) forms of distinctiveness, as well as their own extension.

For the mutual influence of sub-state autonomy demands and statutes, the findings indicate that, while both the conferral and non-conferral of sub-state autonomy lead to an increase of autonomy demands within sub-state communities, the non-conferral can be expected to lead to a greater exacerbation of demands than the conferral. When thinking about what these results and recent developments in the cases tell us about the longer-term perspectives of sub-state communities, four plausible scenarios of how the first two waves of centrifugal sociological decentralisation could evolve in the future have been sketched-out: through unidirectional federalisation, confederalisation, accession to independence, or differentiated de- and re-federalisation.

Taken together, the thesis shows when and how factors from different theoretical stands interact when leading to the rise and evolution of autonomy demands and statutes. This allowed to develop a cross-theoretical frame for the interpretation and analysis of sub-state mobilisation and restructuring through what was called ‘the three waves of centrifugal sociological decentralisation’.