Nationalism, self-determination and secession
Nationalism, self-determination and secession

Start this free course now. Just create an account and sign in. Enrol and complete the course for a free statement of participation or digital badge if available.

Free course

Nationalism, self-determination and secession

6.5 Do our answers depend on who the groups are?

Finally, perhaps our intuition about how to deal democratically with country Y depends on who we think the As, Bs and Cs are. Consider three possibilities:

  • (i) A is the UK, B is Scotland, C is the Shetland Islands

  • (ii) A is the EU, B is the UK, C is Scotland

  • (iii) A is a world government, B is the EU, C is France.

Does your intuition about the rights of communities A, B and C shift from case to case? If so, is the shift due to a reflex to favour the sovereign, self-governing status of existing nation-states? Or is it because you favour decentralisation in principle, or because you are an advocate of ‘ever closer union’ in the EU, or indeed of world government? Perhaps exploring our intuition in this way tells us something about the uses and limits of political theory. We must be careful to examine the assumptions we bring to our analyses, and be sensitive to the assumptions of the theorists we read.


Take your learning further

Making the decision to study can be a big step, which is why you'll want a trusted University. The Open University has 50 years’ experience delivering flexible learning and 170,000 students are studying with us right now. Take a look at all Open University courses.

If you are new to University-level study, we offer two introductory routes to our qualifications. You could either choose to start with an Access module, or a module which allows you to count your previous learning towards an Open University qualification. Read our guide on Where to take your learning next for more information.

Not ready for formal University study? Then browse over 1000 free courses on OpenLearn and sign up to our newsletter to hear about new free courses as they are released.

Every year, thousands of students decide to study with The Open University. With over 120 qualifications, we’ve got the right course for you.

Request an Open University prospectus371