Europeanisation, devolution and popular sovereignty: on the politics of state transformation in Scottish nationalism

James Foley*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)
85 Downloads (Pure)


This research examines the interacting role of processes of state transformation – namely, devolution and Europeanisation – in the development of Scottish nationalism. It draws on the concept of ‘member statehood’, examining how relationships within nation states have been transformed by the European dynamic. Superficially, Scotland seems to contradict central aspects of this theory: the main citizen mobilising response to Brexit has been in Scotland and aimed precisely at restoring a notional Scottish popular sovereignty by re- joining the EU. However, an analysis of Scottish political development reveals a more complex picture putting state transformation theories in a more sympathetic light. Scottish independence emerges as a complex, contradictory response to post-neoliberalism and the crisis of member-statehood. While Europeanism has proved a useful tool for competing forces in Scotland, it has been refracted through problems of a ‘democratic deficit’ and claims for the ‘restoration’ of sovereignty appealing to disenchanted voters.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)437-458
Number of pages22
JournalCritical Sociology
Issue number3
Early online date5 Sept 2021
Publication statusPublished - May 2022


  • Brexit
  • Europeanisation
  • nationalism
  • neoliberalism
  • Scotland
  • sovereignty
  • state transformation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science


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