1985 volume 3(1) pages 27 – 48

Cite as:
Williams C H, 1985, "When nationalists challenge: when nationalists rule" Environment and Planning C: Government and Policy 3(1) 27 – 48

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When nationalists challenge: when nationalists rule

C H Williams

Abstract. Explanations for the rise of minority nationalist movements in advanced industrial societies tend toward being statist in character. In this paper, the procedures are examined by which minorities in Quebec and Wales have sought to offer an alternative basis for the legitimisation of group rights and participation within the state structures. Attention is drawn to the pivotal role of language reproduction in these case studies and to the implications for the survival of the minority culture of this new form of local state dependency. Though the tangible benefits which have accrued to the minorities as a result of nationalist mobilisation are acknowledged, disquiet is expressed as to the primacy given to language-related policies and to the future prospect of extending the legitimacy of the minority tongue from public to private domains. In this respect, Quebec offers a more integrative pattern than Wales, where language intrusion is causing conflict within the Welsh-speaking minority and is creating new sources of class-based friction. However, it is concluded that both in Wales and in Quebec the reform of language policy is part of a wider restructuring of social and political relationships. Further research is clearly needed on the economic implications of language planning and on the class restructuring which postwar developments have produced within the Welsh and Qu├ębecois societies.

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