Regional and national identity mobilization in Canada and Britain: Nova Scotia and North East England compared
Examining Canada and Britain from 1990 to 2004, the thesis explores how the surge in minority nationalist agitation that occurred in Quebec and Scotland changed the political environment in Canada (outside Quebec) and England allowing regional elites to advance political agendas which mobilized regional and national identities. The thesis considers the role of democratic institutions at the regional level in shaping political demands through a comparative study of regional and national identity mobilization in Nova Scotia and the North East of England. The analysis contends that the relationship between minority and majority nations is dialectical; nationalism stems from fundamentally different interpretations of the state and is not the ‘fault’ of either nation. Using this claim as the basis for analyzing elite debate at the centre and in the regions, the dissertation systematically examines regionalism within the majority nation by investigating debates at the national and regional level. The work looks at parliamentary debates, campaign material, newspaper accounts and elite interviews; and as identity mobilization and political debates are targeted at the electorate, survey analysis is undertaken to see whether elite debate resonated with the masses. The thesis demonstrates that regionalism is a component of the ongoing (re)conception of nation within the majority nation, and that during periods of strong minority nationalist agitation, a political environment is created which allows elites in the majority nation to mobilize national and regional identities. Regional identity mobilization is shown to be part of the nationalism of the majority nation; as the dominant conception of the state within the majority encompasses the minority nations as co-nationals and equal citizens, regional elites are able to use the minority nations as examples of successful agitation without subscribing to their interpretations of the state. Regional levels of democracy did not alter the nature of regionalism in either state and though the demands issued may have been different, the underlying concerns were the same: a lack of voice and efficacy.