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Honors Thesis Archive

Author Hannah Scheckelhoff
Title Devolution and Disengagement in the United Kingdom: A Study on the Effects of Devolution on Union-Wide Engagement in Politics
Department Political Science
Advisor James Allan, Ed Hasecke, J. Fitz Smith
Year 2011
Honors University Honors
Full Text View Thesis (160 KB)
Abstract Devolution, the process by which both Wales and Scotland were granted their own regional assemblies, has drastically changed the nature of government, politics, and culture in the United Kingdom in the last decade. The result of years of protest and attempts at legislation, devolution aimed to quell the increasingly nationalist sentiments of Scotland and Wales, both of which were growing restless in their positions of subordination the United Kingdom. Yet, in 2011, twelve years after the devolved governments' first elections, it is clear that these nationalist sentiments have not been at all repressed by this change in governance. Instead, it has seemingly resulted in increased nationalism, evidenced by the presence of high numbers of nationalists in the devolved governments, and continued thoughts of independence in Scotland and Wales. Operating under the assumption that devolution was an effort to reunite the UK by making concessions to the outer regions of the nation, the mere presence of these sentiments in Scotland and Wales forces the question: has devolution worked in the way in which it was originally intended? It is clear that devolution has not served one of its main intended purposes. In fact, it seems that devolution has made already nationalist regions, like Scotland, more disengaged from the union, and made relatively content and unified regions, like England, less engaged in the union's politics. Although no decisive actions have been taken in any region to translate disengagement into separation or further devolution, these concerns are clearly rumbling under the surface of British politics.

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