Global Social Policy 17(3) pp 279-306

This study is concerned with welfare state development and the intersection between the twin global phenomena of sub-state nationalism and ‘governance transitions’. Specifically, how minority nationalist parties (MNPs) use discourse to exert pressure for welfare change. Accordingly, here, we explore their discourse in Scottish and Welsh elections, and the UK ‘Brexit’ referendum on European Union membership.

The findings reveal how pressure for welfare change is framed using key tropes including nation-building, extending social protection and resistance to central government programmes. The wider significance to understanding global social policy lies in the following: (1) revealing the discursive processes associated with multi-level welfare state dynamics, (2) demonstrating how MNPs and governance transitions combine to pressure for welfare state change, and (3) showing how the resultant territorialisation of policy discourse advances ‘sub-state’ models of social citizenship.