This chapter conveys three related lessons from recent federalism research. First, federalism’s authority boundaries affect the federation’s performance, shaping its capacity to bring security, prosperity and well-being, and justice to a society. Second, boundaries are contested, and multiple safeguards – judicial, extrajudicial and the governments themselves –maintain the boundaries of authority. Third, this chapter examines theories of boundary dynamics. Intentional constitutional revision is not the only way authority boundaries change, and it may not even be the most important way. Evolutionary processes may move the boundaries first, and constitutions may or may not be revised to recognize the new form of federalism in practice. The lessons about authority boundaries are relevant across federal systems.
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This chapter explores the development of the gender-federalism field focused on interactions between ‘federal arrangements’ and gender regimes. Initially the field focused on the question: ‘is federalism good or bad for women?’ It highlighted obstacles to women’s attainment of equal rights and full citizenship created by ‘federal arrangements’ blocking such changes as family-law reforms. More recently, gender-federalism scholars conceptualized such interactions as a ‘two-way street’ on which ‘federal arrangements’ affect women’s political activism but that women’s increased activism since the 1960s also began to change federal politics, discourses and institutions. Initiated by feminist political scientists in older ‘Western’ federations, the field now includes researchers in federations in the global south who explore issues focused on how interactions between ‘federalization’ and ‘democratization’ affect women’s political organizing, participation and representation. Following a brief historical overview, the chapter outlines areas of gendered inquiry that are common to federations and to formerly unitary states undergoing the devolution of power and ‘federalization’ including Belgium, Spain and the UK. It also identifies the field’s key issues and theories as well as new questions such as why women’s legislative representation is significantly higher in federations than in unitary states and in regional governments despite the rarity of regional, electoral quotas. The chapter concludes with a brief speculation about the field’s future and how its insights can be made more widely available to gender scholars and scholars of federalism.
The focus on non-centralism includes proclaimed federations, countries with some federal arrangements, and local governments with some autonomy. Given the enormity of peace, governance and development challenges facing many African countries, research on the role that non-centralism can play in addressing these challenges is vital, and should pursue the following agenda: first, because unitary states often engendered ethnic-based conflicts, their functionality should be examined. Second, has federalism been able to resolve these conflicts and hold countries together by accommodating minority groups? Third, could other forms of territorial accommodation of ethnic groups provide peace dividends, such as autonomy arrangements and secession? Fourth, could autonomous local government facilitate a more democratic and developmental state? Fifth, what causes the gap between non-centralist policies and laws, on one hand, and practice on the other, including the role of the political traditions of centralism, the patrimonial state, and the absence of constitutionalism?
The chapter looks at the peregrinations of fiscal-federalism studies across time, geography and disciplines, portraying the mainstream literature on the topic from past to present debates. In so doing it addresses the most intriguing issues and the emerging trends the research agenda has to cope with. The basic assumption is that the progresses of the literature reflect the advancements from a formal and minimalistic understanding of fiscal federalism to a more substantial, practice-oriented and interdisciplinary approach. As such, an expanded and comparative insight into the phenomenon and its causes brings about the need to face new challenges that put a strain on fiscal-federalism studies and entail new advances in the research agenda.
Edited by John Kincaid
Subnational constitutions, which are found in a number of federal systems, have attracted increasing scholarly interest. This chapter summarizes leading research in this area and identifies questions calling for additional inquiry, with a focus on three issues. First, significant progress has been made in mapping the legal dimensions of subnational constitutions and their interaction with national constitutions, but a better understanding is needed of the politics of subnational constitutions and the ways they play a meaningful part in governing. Second, scholars would benefit from additional inquiry into whether subnational constitutions can help accommodate ethnic or national pluralism, in view of recent efforts to craft subnational constitutions for this purpose. Additionally, scholars in this subfield should continue to pursue questions of general interest to comparative constitutional scholars, by benefiting from the opportunities and data that subnational constitutions provide for assessing the effects of choices regarding constitutional and institutional design.
This chapter explores the possibilities and challenges of comparative analysis in federal studies, whether directed at greater understanding of the promise and impact of federalism or of the way federal systems operate and evolve. Examples from the existing literature illustrate the dilemmas of large-N versus small-N studies, the limits of case availability and issues of case selection, and the consequent rarity of robust findings. The chapter emphasizes the need for greater methodological rigour in future research and suggests a focus on topics with the greatest relevance to the challenges of the modern world.