Pub. date: 2011 | Online Pub. Date: October 04, 2011 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412994163 | Print ISBN: 9781412959636 | Online ISBN: 9781412994163| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Self-determination is a highly contentious concept that encompasses a variety of meanings and political claims. Each of these claims is based on the theory that particular population groups possess an inherent right to control their own political institutions. The term has been used in at least three different ways. First, self-determination can refer to the collective right of a defined ethnic, linguistic, cultural, or religious community to create and administer their own state. This is often the foundation for an argument in favor of secession or irredentism, the doctrine that populations should live under the sovereignty of the country to which they are ethnically or culturally related regardless of existing juridical borders. Second, it can refer to the right of a population to decide how they will be governed and who will represent them in government, the bedrock of democratic theory. Finally, the concept of self-determination also represents the Although ...