Political Studies. Volume 21 (4) pp. 709-727

Efforts are underway to develop a stronger political science perspective regarding the practice of language policy to establish language policy as a distinct field of public policy studies. The article’s original theoretical contribution is to develop a framework, grounded in historical institutionalism, to analyse the multi-level institutional factors that influence language policy choices relating to regional or minority languages within European multi-level states. The framework is tested by applying it to analyse the multi-level factors that condition language policy decisions regarding the Welsh language, and through further investigating the framework’s significance and robustness to analyse language policy trajectories in two contrasting European cases. Overall, the article makes the case for the strengths and adaptability of the framework in producing convincing explanations of the multi-level dimensions of language policy development in different institutionalised contexts and calls for greater investigation of its ability to analyse other regional and minority languages in Europe.