Introduction  pp. 1-34

Introduction

By James Tully

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The aim of this volume is to present the first collaborative, multi-perspective and critical survey of a new and distinctive type of political association that is coming into prominence at the dawn of the twenty-first century – ‘multinational democracy’. Multinational democracies are contemporary societies composed not only of many cultures (multi-cultural) but also of two or more nations (multinational). The Canadian Research Group on Multinational Societies brought together a team of leading experts from Europe and North America to clarify the complex physiognomy of multinational democracies by reflecting on four leading exemplars – Canada, the United Kingdom, Belgium and Spain – from the perspectives of history, comparative politics and political philosophy. This work thus strives to offer a new approach and contribution to the study, understanding and governing of multinational societies and, in so doing, of culturally diverse societies more generally.

We have sought to cast a new light on multinational societies by employing four methodological rules. Since multinational democracies are just coming into being in the present era it is not possible to present a definitive or comprehensive account. Rather than the crystalline purity of a theory of multinational democracy, therefore, we seek first of all to offer many, complementary, specific, theoretical and institutional sketches of the ‘rough ground’: that is, the activities, practices, dynamics, tensions, institutions, administrative arrangements, policies, procedures, structures, movements, citizenship, parties, struggles for and against recognition, obstacles, disagreements, laws, constitutions, shared sovereignty, values and norms that characterize these emerging polities.