James Henderson and Arild Moe
Imad A. Moosa
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.