Structural Solutions: European Experiences

Part of the Ethnic and Intercommunity Conflict Series book series (EAI)


In Chapter 2 we examined the way in which the issue of ethnic division has reasserted its importance. This reassertion occurred despite the assumption of modernisation theory that traditional bases of identity would wither in the face of modern technology and communication, and be replaced by ‘more relevant’, utilitarian criteria. Of course, as we also saw in Chapter 2, it is not difficult to identify social divisions within most societies albeit the key lies in the consequences of those divisions for social practice. Historically the most common way in which states have responded to the reality of internal social divisions is to emphasise the essential unity of society or play down internal differences in the face of fundamental differences with external others. From a Durkheimian perspective, this goal can be pursued through the establishment of central institutions of governance, and the promulgation of common rituals and practices towards iconic images of the state and nation. Alternatively, states may recognise societal diversity and offer some legitimacy to this through some form of decentralised institutions, albeit within limits. There is a number of particularly interesting examples of such structural diversity within Europe and it is to these that we turn in this chapter. The main aim of the chapter is to examine the consequences for education systems within such decentralised arrangements. Before examining our case studies we will first examine briefly intra-societal divisions within western European states.


Direct Democracy Autonomous Community European Experience Linguistic Community Ethnic Division 
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Copyright information

© Tony Gallagher 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Queen’s University BelfastUK

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