Devolution, Supranationalism & Democratization

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  • 0:04 Government
  • 1:10 Devolution
  • 3:24 Supranationalism
  • 5:12 Democratization
  • 7:10 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Charlotte Bunch

Charlotte has been teaching secondary education for five years. She has a bachelor's degree in Secondary Education and a master's degree in Curriculum and Instruction.

Learn the definitions of devolution, supranationalism and democratization. Then explore how globalization and communication technologies have positively and negatively impacted all three.


Imagine that you are at your favorite theme park, Imaginaryland. As you are a thrill seeker, you mostly stick to the area of the park designated for thrill rides. However, the park has also been divided into family rides, children's rides, and arcade games. Imaginaryland is only one park of a larger group of amusement parks, which includes Waterland, Safari-Jungle, and Horrorville. The owners of the parks met and discovered they all had the common goal of wanting more visitors. They decided visitors only had to pay one entrance fee for access to all of the parks. When visitors became aware of this change they quickly started complaining about other amusement parks that do not have combined entrance fees. Visitors took to the social media website, Funbook and drew national media attention. This forced the owners of other parks across the world to combine entrance fees. While this may be a dream for all amusement park enthusiasts, you have just seen how devolution, supranationalism, and democratization all function.


Devolution is the process of moving powers from a central government to smaller, subnational governments, such as regional, state, or local. In a country that has experienced devolution, the central government may keep power of defense, while the subnational governments can make laws, tax, and form their own political entities. This is similar to the example at the beginning of the lesson. Imaginaryland has been broken up into different ride areas (thrill, family, children, and arcade games). Each area has its own autonomy, but also must follow the basic rules of the park.

There can be a variety of reasons that have led states to devolution. Regional separations, racial and ethnic disputes, or religious differences often force central governments to transfer power to regional governments in order to reduce tension, and even violence. Nations have been experiencing the impacts communication technology has on the devolution process. The Internet can positively affect subnational governments through improved finances, transportation, communication, education, and politics. Also, social media platforms display images of how devolution is unfolding, while holding public officials accountable.

There are numerous examples of nations that have gone through the devolution process. The United Kingdom allowing for powers to be transferred to Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland is just one example of a nation that has gone through the devolution process. Devolution occurred because of many social, economic, and political differences throughout the region. Rising tensions and conflict at times became violent. In 1997, the process of devolution in Scotland and Wales began, and Northern Ireland followed the following year. Powers are divided between the Scottish Parliament, the National Assembly for Wales, the Northern Ireland Assembly, and British Parliament. In general, each nation has the power over agriculture, education, environment, and health, but British Parliament has full power of national security, foreign policy, and immigration.


Supranationalism is the process of nation states organizing politically and economically into one organization or alliance. Supranational organizations are where three or more countries form an alliance for cultural, economic, or military reasons. These alliances are created so states can reach cultural, economic, or military goals they may not be able to reach without relying on one another. Looking back to our amusement park scenario, the owners had a common goal of wanting more visitors. Because of this goal, they decided to allow visitors access to all four of the parks under one entrance fee, allowing for each park to become a 'member park' under one larger organization of parks.

Supranational organizations strongly rely upon the idea of globalization. Globalization is the way different places and countries interact with one another. This can be through trade agreements, trade routes, immigration, and even ideas. The Internet is an important tool for globalization. It has allowed for businesses to more easily communicate, not just with member states, but also across continents.

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