Cultural pluralism, nationalism and federalism: a revision of democratic citizenship in plurinational states

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This article poses three questions related to the current revision of democratic citizenship in plurinational states. The first question focusses on the analytical limits of the term ‘multicultural’ and on the question of where nationalist movements stand within cultural pluralism. The second question asks whether it is possible to overcome the inherent difficulties in the traditional concept of liberal–democratic citizenship in plurinational states. Finally, the third question asks whether federalism is an adequate framework to regulate a revised concept of democratic citizenship in plurinational states. These three questions are developed in three sections. In the first I put forward a typology that allows us to identify four kinds of cultural pluralism movements that are present within the current liberal democracies. In the second section I identify some of the shortcomings of the traditional concept of citizenship with respect to the plurinational integration of some democracies, making special reference to the standard liberal version by Rawls. I defend the right of the minority liberal nationalisms to be included in a revision of the concept of democratic citizenship for the next century. Finally, I discuss the role of federalism, paying special attention to the case of Catalonia and Spain within Europe, and to possible ‘asymmetrical’ reforms to the concept of democratic citizenship.

Document Type: Original Article


Affiliations: Pompeu Fabra University, Barcelona, Spain

Publication date: March 1, 1999

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