Is Self-Determination a Dangerous Illusion?

David Miller, Professor of Political Theory, has written a new book on self-determination. The book will be published by Polity in November 2019.


Claims to self-determination are rife in world politics today. They range from Scottish and Catalonian campaigns for independence to calls for the devolution of power to regions and cities. But what does self-determination actually mean? Is it meaningful or desirable in the 21st century, or merely a dangerous illusion?

In this book, Prof Miller mounts a powerful defence of political self-determination. He explains why it is valuable, and examines how groups must be constituted if they are to have the capacity to be self-determining, arguing that geographic proximity alone is not enough: group members must also identify with each other. He then explores the different political forms that self-determination can take, and suggests some realistic constraints on how it can be achieved in a complex multicultural and multinational world. He concludes that it is still both feasible and important for people to regain control over their environment by exercising their collective agency.

This topical and lively introductory book will be essential reading for anyone concerned by the theoretical issues raised by the various secessionist and nationalist movements around the world.

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    David Miller has written a book on self-determination.
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Professor David Miller is Professor of Political Theory, FBA, Senior Research Fellow, Nuffield College