Programme Specification -
First Call for Proposals
PLEASE NOTE:- The deadline for proposals
has now passed. The following details are
for information only.
1 This major new £4.7 million programme of research, which will run from 2000 to 2005, will examine a wide range of matters relating to devolution, constitutional change and consequential effects. The programme of research has three themes - nationalism and national identity; governance and constitution; and economic and social policy. There will be two calls for proposals, the first in December 1999, from which research projects are expected to start from October 2000 onwards, and the second call in 2000. It is likely that about 20 projects will be funded in this first phase. Further details of the call for proposals are found below and in the annexed document Participation in ESRC Research programmes: Notes for applicants. The outline application form (on which all applications must be submitted) may be accessed through ESRC’s WWW pages (http://www.esrc.ac.uk/eforms).
2 Major constitutional changes to the UK provide a timely and unrepeatable opportunity for political analysis and economic and social research. Radical change will follow the creation of the new Scottish Parliament; Assemblies in Wales and Northern Ireland; Regional Development Authorities and the election of a London Assembly and mayor in England. These constitutional changes are likely to have far reaching political, economic, social and geographical effects, both within and between the territories of the UK and within the European Union. Nationalist parties in Scotland and Northern Ireland are recording historically high levels of public support. Research leading to greater understanding of these processes of change and the consequent effects on our lives will be valuable for citizens, business, and policy-makers, both in the UK and overseas. Comparative studies will comprise an important element.
3 At the heart of the issue is the nature of the UK as a nation state. Will devolution strengthen the United Kingdom or weaken it? Will there be a new national identity? And will this compete with or complement identities in the devolved territories? What will be the impact on political parties and national organizations? Will devolution and the other constitutional changes lead to better governance? And what will be the impact on the regions in England and on relations with the EU? To what extent will these changes impact on and be impacted by trends in investment and allocation of financial resources?
4. There will be three themes, entitled:
· Nationalism and National Identity
· Governance and the constitution
· Economic and social policy: competition or co-operation?
5. It is expected that about 35 projects and fellowships in all will be funded, spread among the three themes and commissioned in two phases (because devolution may develop in new and unanticipated ways during the life of the programme). It is anticipated that two attitude surveys will be funded in each of Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland, to continue tracking trends in opinion on devolution, nationality, and independence.
6. There is enormous user interest in this programme. British government organisations will be approached to supplement the ESRC funding. Dissemination will include working papers, a website, and short briefing notes for users. Constitutional developments in all four of the territories of the UK will be monitored.
7. The objectives of this programme are:
· to understand the dynamics of change and its historical context, and to analyse to what extent future developments are path determined by past commitments or altered by economic, cultural and social pressures interacting with new political structures
· to evaluate intended, unintended and unanticipated political, social and economic consequences of change for England, the authority and institutions of Westminster as well as for the territories subject to devolution
· to inform policy-makers, opinion formers and the public about the process of devolution and what is occurring, and the alternatives for change based on evaluations of UK practice and drawing on expertise from abroad.
8 The Northern Ireland Assembly was elected in 1998; the Welsh Assembly and Scottish Parliament in 1999; the Mayor and Assembly of London will be elected in 2000. The existence of these bodies may increase pressure for elected assemblies in the rest of England. They are likely to lead to demands for greater transparency of inter-regional fiscal and financial flows of public spending and tax revenue. The changes in society and culture that they may bring in their train are unpredictable but probably enormous.
9. By the time the programme is completed, it should provide:
· Studies of the interactions between the devolved governments and the wide range of bodies and organisations comprising their civil societies
· Studies of the mutual feedback between economic competition and political institutions
· A time series of data on public attitudes to devolution, and studies of personal and national identity, in each territory of the UK
· The first comparative studies of intergovernmental relations among all the constituent parts of the UK (and with Ireland and the EU)
· Evaluations of what has worked and what has not in the devolution legislation (including secondary rule-making)
· Evidence of fiscal and public spending flows within the UK.
10. Until recently, the social-scientific study of devolution in the UK was under-developed, despite a brief flowering in the 1970s, when devolution was last on the UK policy agenda. Devolution can be analysed from a variety of perspectives. Is devolution primarily about the retreat of the state, or about its adaptation to serve the needs of a more sceptical and demanding electorate? Does it present risks due to imperfect accountability, fracturing of political responsibility and weakening of political initiative in the face of global economic forces, or strengths resulting from increased democracy, greater local accountability and a more open society? Devolution is both the outcome and the cause of a process of competition among political parties, bureaucracies, local and national governments. Recent moves towards devolution in the UK and within the EU provide an unique opportunity to investigate this process of competition. There are intriguing analogies between such competition and the more familiar process of economic competition between firms, and also some striking differences which only a serious multi-disciplinary research initiative can illuminate.
11 Every state must manage its centre-periphery relations. Typically, some demands from the periphery have to be met if the state is to exist at all. Often, these bargains are congealed into a federal structure, in which thinly populated regions are represented in one house of the legislature out of proportion to their population share. (Unusually, in the UK, the overrepresentation is now in the lower house and benefits Scotland, and Wales). There will be pressure for the UK’s new second chamber to be elected, wholly or partly, on a territorial basis. How will these relationships be managed? Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will each be acting under authority of different Acts of Parliament and comparisons will be important.
12. The study of intergovernmental relations will be fundamental. The expansion of European Union (EU) competence into policy areas handled by sub-national governments has already posed problems for federal states within the EU, and will be a major issue in the UK post-devolution. Mechanisms will have to be found to ensure that UK policy on EU questions takes adequate account of the views of democratically mandated regional assemblies and executives over transferred matters affected by EU policies and programmes. The existence of the EU makes independence for the non-English parts of the UK seem less of a leap in the dark and more of an extension of a ‘Europe of regions’. Both the ‘north-south’ and the ‘east-west’ bodies created in the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement 1998 are unique. As yet they are largely empty vessels; neither social scientists nor politicians know what may be poured into them.
13. Constitutional changes bring in their train changes in public opinion; changes in the policy instruments available to local governments affect their power to attract inward investment; their success in attracting inward investment affects both their success in winning votes and their political legitimacy. Sometimes, but not always, such changes push devolution on to federalism or separatism. The comparative study of constitutions has been rejuvenated by the new institutionalism in political science and legal studies. The concept of ‘consociation’*, developed in the Netherlands, or the system of assymetrical devolution in Spain may help analysis of the new institutions in any or all of the devolved territories. Substantial sample surveys of political and social attitudes have taken place in the UK and in all three non-English territories; this Programme must ensure that they continue (on its budget or otherwise) throughout its life. This programme will provide an opportunity for study of questions of identity and nationalism. Research must map and study the political, cultural and social consequences of the changing relationship between Britishness and national identities in all devolved territories of the UK.
14. How does the process of competition change the character of political organisations themselves? Do public administrations become leaner and fitter through the need to attract corporate investment? Do they tax captive labour more remorselessly to fill the pockets of firms? Does competition change the menu of policies they feel capable of offering voters at election time? Does decentralisation of power make them more responsive to local concerns? Are local governments easier for disgruntled voters to eject, or easier for local special interests to capture? What makes the difference between effective and ineffective local administrations? How do different levels of government recruit and retain individuals of talent and initiative? These issues have become highly topical recently in discussions of “social capital”. The large literature in economics and geography on the factors leading enterprises to decide where to locate, needs to be harnessed to the question of devolution. At present it is unclear whether the presence of devolved government helps or hinders economic development, or how much freedom governments have to vary tax levels on mobile factors of production.
Practical and Policy Context
15. This programme arises out of the rapid and wide-ranging constitutional developments in the UK since May 1997 (earlier in the case of Northern Ireland), together with the further development of the European Community and Union. Together, these have both known and unknown consequences, and policy-makers need to be briefed on the first and helped to anticipate the second. These events will not be repeated. If they are not studied now, it will be much harder to study them later.
16. The Acts granting devolved government to the non-English parts of the UK, and to London, and creating Regional Development Authorities in England, relate to one another but are part of piecemeal, rather than comprehensive, constitutional reform. They will interact deeply with other constitutional changes, such as the incorporation of the European Convention of Human Rights into domestic law; freedom of information legislation; and the, as yet unsettled, reform of the second chamber. The form these interactions will take is unknown.
17. The Cabinet Office, the Home Office, the Scottish Executive, the Welsh Office, DETR, the Office of the First and Deputy First Minister (NI), and the Local Government Association have welcomed the programme as a potential source of independent research which will complement the research projects which they commission. Some of these bodies have indicated that they may be prepared to co-fund projects. Some non-profit research organisations could also become partners in this programme. Other research funders such as the Leverhulme Trust are also commissioning work on aspects of devolution. (Further information on work funded by the Trust can be found at
Nationalism and National Identity
18. A fundamental issue for research is the relationship of the process of devolution to the development of discrete national identities within the UK. It is likely that the effects of this relationship will go far beyond political institutions to pervade the very fabric of social life within the British and Irish nations, both at institutional and personal levels. The programme will place the issue of national identity firmly in historical and comparative contexts, looking both at the experience of Britain and Northern Ireland, and the experience of other countries, particularly other multi-national states in Europe. Study of the historical origins of contemporary constitutional and social arrangements is regarded as exceptionally important. The EU dimension is important to understanding devolution; and research will also consider the extent to which the existence of a supra-national European administration is a factor in developing non-metropolitan identities.
19. Close attention will be paid to the way in which the processes of change in England, the island of Ireland, Scotland, and Wales relate to each other. These processes are not taking place in semi-sealed systems. How will they impact on the other territories, whether as catalysts for change or the reverse? What will be the impact in England?
20. The programme will study the cultural and social structural bases of the political movements for devolution in the U.K. The demand for devolution has been driven substantially by the saliency of national (i.e. sub-state) identities, cultural and intellectual traditions in Scotland, Wales and, in a different way, Northern Ireland. How will its achievement and enactment affect identity and sentiment? What will be the consequences of the changing relationship between Britishness and national identities in all national territories of the United Kingdom especially England? If national identity (or its political expression) intensifies, will this fuel a drive for further devolution (as the collapse of empire stimulated the demand for further decolonisation), possibly for independence, or will it strengthen commitment to devolution within the Union? Are there distinctive spatial or gender dimensions to this within the national territories? Will devolution satisfy or intensify the demands for political self-expression of interest groups within the devolved nations? How will public opinion in England react?
21. To what extent will the devolved machinery of government accord with the varying democratic emphases in the cultures and institutions of the British nations? What may be the implications of devolution for the development of civil society, and the impact of civil society on the processes of devolution? What will be the impact on British and UK institutions such as professional bodies, organisations representing employers and employees, political parties and voluntary organisations? How will these processes differ in the various parts of the UK? Will border areas be differentially affected? What will be the impact of devolution on the centralised structures of the British media? Will the media bolster 'British' identity and consciousness against or encourage the diverse national, regional and local manifestations and variations?
22. Devolution may have far reaching effects on some social groups and institutions. Will the political process become more open to women? How will minority groups respond to devolution? How will, for instance, the position and identity of Scots in England or English persons in Scotland be affected? What impact will there be on multi-ethnic communities? Will there be consequences for patterns of migration, the availability of labour or social exclusion and inclusion? How will the behaviour of people near borders change? What will be the consequences of such changes, and those in other more specific areas (such as bilingualism in Wales, or land reform in Scotland)
Governance and constitutional matters
23. How will relations develop between the devolved bodies, Westminster and the Republic of Ireland? Will there be new forms of federalism? How will political party structures cope? Will there be claims by further regions within England for more devolution? How (if at all) will the House of Commons adapt to its role as the elected chamber for England? What impact will devolution have on territorial identity and the UK: will it strengthen the UK or encourage further fragmentation? How will new arrangements for London impact with the wider devolution initiatives? Are there territorial implications for the reformed House of Lords? If so, how should it be elected and with what powers? Will it represent territories explicitly, along the lines of the United States or Australian Senates or the German Bundesrat? How will the east-west and north-south bodies under the Good Friday Agreement 1998 operate?
24. What changes will there be in the structure, function and composition of the Civil Service and Next Steps Agencies? How will business organisations, professional bodies, trades unions and the voluntary sector relate to the devolved institutions? How far will the obligation to comply with human rights provisions shape the new institutions of devolved governance? Will they develop any checks and balances in the absence of a second chamber? Will Regional Development Agencies and Regional Chambers lead to elected regional bodies in England. And will such bodies consolidate existing local authority functions or will power be devolved from Whitehall?
25 The democratic mandate will be contested. There will be competing claims from local government, territorial governments, Westminster and the EU. Will people be content with devolution or will this fuel demands for more independence? Will devolution bring political control closer to most citizens or give more power for an existing regional political elite? Research on political behaviour will include studies of the working, and consequences, of differing electoral systems across the UK, including voting behaviour, candidate selection, participation and public attitudes. As the territorial electoral systems (including those for the London Assembly) differ from each other as well as those in use for Westminster and the European Parliament, a rare naturally-controlled experiment on the effects of electoral systems is possible. These new systems will deliver legislators with either “party list” or “constituency” affiliations; what will be the impact on the behaviour of legislators of these different accountabilities? How will the new legislatures in the devolved territories affect the House of Commons?
26. How will the devolved authorities’ relations with European Union bodies develop? What are the implications for representation of the UK in the Council of Ministers, and in what circumstances will they take place? What are the criteria of representation? How will the UK carry out its treaty and European legal obligations when they affect devolved areas?
27. Devolution entails formal intergovernmental arrangements (as do federalism and independence). What arrangements will evolve? Will they be stable? How will the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council develop a new jurisprudence to deal with its new duties under the Scotland and Wales Acts 1998? How will the standing orders and presiding officers of the legislatures (attempt to) police vires? How far will the combination of devolution and the new human rights provisions (both those general to the UK and those specific to N. Ireland) lead to a judicial re-examination of the basis of constitutional authority?
Economic and social policy: competition and co-operation
28 The devolved territories will compete with each other, and with other political actors, across a range of issues. Economic competition is likely to be important, especially for inward investment and jobs. This competition is not confined to the nation state: Scotland competes not merely against Wales, but with regions in Ireland and Spain amongst others. On the other hand, there may be new opportunities for co-operation. Collaboration with researchers from elsewhere in the EU will be essential in studying these phenomena. How will the institutional structure of the devolved territories influence the policies they adopt on, for example, incentives to encourage foreign direct investment? Will the devolved territories become more, or less, attractive locations for international capital? Will Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and the English regions follow similar or divergent strategies? Answers to these questions will require better data and more empirical research on the factors which influence investment and locational decisions of firms. We need to understand what influences growth at the sub-national level and the tendencies toward convergence or divergence in territorial income levels in order to predict the economic (and political) pressures on political parties in the devolved territories. Over the longer term, will the pressures from economic competition bring about changes in the structure of the devolved political institutions? Are the constitutional changes likely to lead to widening disparities in unemployment and GDP per head?
29. Intergovernmental fiscal transfers are likely to become more transparent and more contentious as a result of devolution. What is the best way for the central authority to provide finance to the devolved territories? What role is there for intergovernmental transfers to provide insurance against economic shocks to specific territories? Investment flows and the locational decisions of firms will influence the economic structure of the regions and hence their vulnerability to regional shocks. If regions become more specialized and vulnerable to shocks, will this make intergovernmental transfers more important? What will be the effect of the setting of fiscal policy (there is some tax power in Scotland) in a context of competing tax jurisdictions? To what extent will the devolved territories compete with each other (and with other regions and states in the EU and elsewhere) in setting tax rates and regulatory standards. Will such competition lead to a ‘race to the bottom’? It will be essential to study how other countries have addressed these issues. How will Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland handle differential economic performance within their jurisdiction? How will they and the Regional Development Agencies relate to local authorities?
30. Will health and social policy diverge or not? Will historically different approaches to education become more marked? What will be the relationship of social policy to Scottish, Welsh and Irish cultures? How will human rights legislation be interpreted in the territories? Will there be more horizontal integration of services, such as health and housing? How will vertical relationships with the EU impact on policies?
31 Bids would be welcomed for two surveys of the electorate (2001 and 2003, with particular focus on 2001 in the first instance) in each of the three non-English territories of the UK. During the life of this programme, there will be elections to the Northern Ireland Assembly in 2002; to the National Assembly of Wales and the Scottish Parliament in 2003; to the UK Parliament by 2002 at the latest; and to the European Parliament in 2004. There could be constitutional referenda in one or more of the devolved territories. The programme will ensure adequate monitoring of public opinion in each of the territories and will continue the time series of the Scottish and Welsh Referendum studies (by CREST); the Scottish and Welsh 1999 Parliament/Assembly election studies (R000238065 A.M. Park et al, and R000238070 R.L. Wyn Jones et al); and the most recent Northern Ireland social attitudes surveys.
PROFILE OF THE PROGRAMME
Contributing disciplines and areas and opportunities for transdisciplinary research
32. The academic disciplines involved will include: business studies, economics, geography, history, media studies, political science, public management, social anthropology, social policy, social psychology, socio-legal studies (including constitutional law), social statistics and sociology. The programme will encourage interdisciplinary work and comparative studies. Links with researchers in other countries with active devolution debates will be developed. Relevance and contribution to ESRC’s Thematic Priorities.
33 This programme is highly relevant to four of ESRC's Thematic Priorities.
Economic Performance and Development: Devolution will either narrow or widen territorial differentials in the economic performance of the UK; nobody knows which. Differential growth may be encouraged or hampered by the policies of the EU and of the private sector, in the UK and overseas.
Globalisation, Regions and Emerging Markets indicates by its very title that globalisation of the world economy can coexist with increasing differentiation among regions. Some think that peripheral territories must suffer from globalisation; others (citing Ireland) disagree.
Governance and Regulation : Several new forms of governance are emerging within the UK, and between the UK and Ireland. These, and their variations from one another, form a natural experiment to test hypotheses relevant to thisTheme.
Social Inclusion and Exclusion: Devolution may in itself change values and identities, possibly with both good and bad effects.
34 The programme will yield new survey data: semi- and unstructured interviews; focus groups; material from participant observation and ethnographic research. Analyses of current policy documents and archive material, including survey data will also be needed. The enhancement of the British Household Panel Study in Scotland and Wales and the new Scottish Household Survey instigated by the Scottish Executive should be useful. It may also be feasible to make valuable historical comparisons tracking changes in feelings of national identity by reanalysis of older surveys such as those by Rose in 1967, and Kilbrandon in 1973.
35 Proposals would be welcome for territorial observatories which would have the primary function of monitoring current constitutional and social developments. Analytic techniques to be employed could include the formal analysis and modelling of survey and other data; content and all appropriate kinds of textual analysis. Experimental methods have been used by social psychologists in some of the areas covered.
Involvement of users
36. The programme will be one of the few sources of non-partisan advice to people in any and all parties, and territories. By its nature, user engagement will be extremely important throughout this programme. Users will be involved on the commissioning panel and subsequent advisory group. Project leaders will be encouragement to develop close relations with users at the start and during research. Focus groups will be an important research tool and a variety of means of discussion and dissemination will be employed. There will be an extensive programme both of academic seminars and of meetings and presentations for media and decision-makers. Particular stress will be laid on producing user-friendly summaries of the research findings of the Programme.
37. In addition to the major Departments consulted during the development, there are many other users to be drawn into the programme. The legislatures (for instance, in the shape of the House of Commons Library) have an interest independent from those of their executives. As the court system must develop, in the direction of judicial review of the vires of legislation, judges and jurists will also be active users. Commercial users and their advisers have a pressing interest in knowing the impact of devolution, federalism, and independence on their business plans. International users will include governments and interest groups in other countries, with comparable devolved or federal arrangements, particularly those within the E.U., and academics throughout the world involved in comparative research.
Management and dissemination of the programme
38 The themes are expected to have roughly equal weight. It is expected that a total of about 35 projects and fellowships will be commissioned in all. The Commissioning Panel will have flexibility to vary the balance of spending with the quality of proposals submitted. ESRC will appoint a Programme Director early in 2000, to lead, represent and co-ordinate the Programme both internally to participants and externally to national and international scientific communities, to build cross-national links with a view to creating collaborative partnerships, to engage with government, industry, the financial sector, voluntary agencies and other user groups and potential beneficiaries, to disseminate research results and facilitate other communication activity and to ensure the programme exploits links with other funders and interested bodies.
39. The Programme Director will also develop a comprehensive Web site, produce a newsletter, organise special workshops seminars and conferences, and arrange for the publication of working papers and a book series. Project award holders under the programme will be required to participate in and collaborate with the communication activities organised by the Programme Director throughout the life of the Programme. Further details of the requirements associated with participation in ESRC research programmes are given in the document annexed to this, entitled Participation in ESRC research programmes: Notes for Applicants. The Director will be provided with a budget to carry out programme level communication activities. However, applicants should take into account these additional responsibilities to contribute to Programme level activities when considering their proposed time commitments to proposals under the programme. Applicants should also note that in order to maximise the coherence and cohesion of the overall Programme, the programme director may recommend some changes to the research proposals and the establishment of formal links and collaborative arrangements between projects recommended for funding under the programme as directed by the Commissioning panel which may form part of the conditions of awards under the Programme.
40 There already exist active research and user networks in the three non-English regions of the UK. English, and UK-wide, networks are less developed. This programme will use the existing policy networks and encourage the development of English and UK-wide networks. It will commission an observer in each of the four territories of the UK and (subject to appropriate funding arrangements) in the Republic of Ireland to monitor constitutional developments in that territory. The observers’ reports will be published and maintained on the programme’s website. The website will be a key dissemination tool. Besides the observers’ reports, it will contain:
· The ‘Rowntree’ style briefing notes
· All the programme’s working papers (downloadable and viewable on line)
· Links to the websites of territorial departments, research organisations, and territorial media. Raw material for the website will come from project directors, but it will be centrally edited by a dissemination officer/webmaster
Resources and Implementation of the programme
41 ESRC’s Research Priorities Board has allocated £4.7 million to this Programme over a period of five years; of which it is anticipated that approximately £4 million will be for projects and fellowships. It is hoped to increase the amount available to support research projects by obtaining co-funding for the Programme as a whole from Governmental bodies and others likely to benefit from the findings. Funding agencies in other countries will be approached for co-funding of joint projects. It is expected that the initial sum will support approximately 30-35 research projects and fellowships spread over and across the Programme’s three themes.
42 A Commissioning Panel chaired by Professor Stephen Wilks (Department of Politics, University of Exeter, and a member of ESRC’s Research Priorities Board) has been established by the ESRC to select the projects and fellowships to be supported by the Programme; membership of the Panel will comprise leading academics from the UK and Europe, and representatives from key user groups in government, NGOs and elsewhere. It will have members from each of the territories of the UK.
43 The Programme must remain flexible enough to cope with unanticipated changes in the government of the United Kingdom or its constituent countries. Therefore, project proposals will be solicited in two tranches, the first with this call, the second in 2001. Not more than two thirds of the available funding for research (up to approximately £2.5m) will be released for funding of the first tranche of projects. It is expected that most projects funded under this call will start from October 2000 (or soon afterwards) but in some cases there may be good reasons for starting later in the cycle. Project duration should be commensurate with the planned work, up to a maximum of four years.
44 Further enquiries should be made to the ESRC Office - Ms. Kirsty Denley (email: firstname.lastname@example.org tel 01793 413007) or alternatively Dr. Stephen Struthers (email: email@example.com).
PLEASE NOTE:- The deadline for proposals has now passed.
The following details are for information only.
45 Applications will be considered in two stages. The first stage involves the consideration of outline applications, shortlisted applicants will subsequently be invited to submit a full proposal by 24th April 2000. Decisions about shortlisting will be announced by the 10th March. Full proposals will be fully peer reveiwed, and the Panel will meet again in late June to make funding decisions and recommendations to the Research Priorities Board. Applicants must only use ESRC's outline application form. Applicants are advised to consult ESRC's standard conditions for research funding. (www://esrc.ac.uk/resfund.htm)
Outline applications (plus 5 copies) must be submitted to the ESRC by 5.00 pm on 31 January 2000 at the following address:
The Economic and Social Research Council
North Star Avenue
Please note that applications postmarked after 5.00pm on this date will not be accepted. ESRC reserves the right to ask for proof of posting. Faxed applications will not be accepted. Electronic applications must be received before 5.00pm on the closing date.
Consociation, ‘in political contexts, a power-sharing arrangement among ideologically opposed groups competing for control over the same territory’. (OED 2nd edition, sense 3b.)