Department or Program



This thesis questions the possibility of liberal multiculturalism, both normatively and in practice. In particular, it explores whether multicultural group rights may fail to achieve their liberal ends when distinct minority claims conflict. Though liberal multiculturalism presents a seemingly uniform justification of minority rights, national minorities and immigrant minorities are treated differently both in the literature and as a matter of policy. Often, national minorities – historically continuous and territorially bound – have demanded and received significant degrees of self-government within larger states. Is this culturally based self-government compatible with multicultural accommodation for nonmember immigrant minorities, or does it deny this possibility? I develop this question through an organized survey of the literature, and contextualize both types of minorities in relation to the nation-state. I conclude that universal and differentiated citizenship cannot be reconciled on principle alone. For this reason, I further explore this theoretical puzzle through case studies. I develop hypotheses about scenarios where the national minority self-government is most likely to be compatible with the integration and accommodation of immigrants, and test these hypotheses in two “most likely” cases, Quebec and Catalonia. Ultimately, I draw these findings together to consider whether and how an approach to minority rights can better account for competing claims.

Level of Access

Open Access

Date of Graduation

Summer 5-2012

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

Number of Pages


Components of Thesis

1 pdf file

Open Access

Available to all.