Chapter

‘A Sort of Farewell’: Sovereignty, Transition, and Devolution in the United Kingdom

John Morison

in Sovereignty and the Law

Published in print November 2013 | ISBN: 9780199684069
Published online January 2014 | e-ISBN: 9780191765865 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199684069.003.0008
‘A Sort of Farewell’: Sovereignty, Transition, and Devolution in the United Kingdom

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Developing Michel Foucault’s famous remark about cutting off the King’s head this Chapter considers the persistence of sovereignty in constitutional discussion, particularly in the area of devolution. It suggests that sovereignty can be put aside in order to develop an alternative way of looking at how power actually operates within the changing constitution in the UK. This involves developing a governmentality analysis where sovereignty and the state are demoted from the centre of analysis. It is argued that such an approach offers a better understanding of how constitutional power actually operates within a wider and more complex idea of governance than is appreciated in traditional constitutional theory. Using the example of the transition in Northern Ireland, where power can be seen in a range of constitutional spaces beneath the formal architecture of the Belfast Agreement, the Chapter argues for the value of a “non-sovereignty” approach for understanding devolution more generally.

Keywords: sovereignty; non-sovereignty; governmentality; Foucault; devolution; transition; Northern Ireland; Belfast Agreement

Chapter.  13824 words. 

Subjects: Constitutional and Administrative Law ; Jurisprudence and Philosophy of Law

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