Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department

Political Science

Major Professor

Mark Amen, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Martin Bosman, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Margit Williams, Ph.D.


Historical Institutionalism, Neo-realism, Great Britain, State Sovereignty, Governance


In order to determine how Britain’s governance and sovereignty have changed since 1950, I developed a historical case study tracing Britain’s political and economic integration into the E.U. starting from the early post-World War II governments through the end of the Thatcher administration. This study uses Historical Institutionalism, which seeks to explain how changes in governance and state sovereignty come about outside of state control, as a ‘testing’ theory to determine whether Britain’s governance and sovereignty have changed since 1950. The hypothesis of this case study is: Did the past decisions on E.C. integration, made by Britain’s government officials and policy-makers, have unintended consequences which caused Britain to become dependent on or locked into paths which led to losses in British state sovereignty?

This study concluded that ‘unintended consequences’ and ‘path dependencies’ were important factors in Britain’s integration into the E.U. However, I found a number of antecedent conditions such as Britain’s status as a weakening nation-state, its insecurities in an economically interdependent world, deteriorating trade relations with iii the Commonwealth and the misperceived status as an equal partner with the U.S. that should also be taken into account in providing a comprehensive explanation.

Finally, this study found that ‘unintended consequences’ and ‘path dependencies’ did not lead to a loss of sovereignty for Britain. This case study embraces a nontraditional concept of sovereignty which defines it as constantly changing and which does not have to be linked to its territory. This new definition allows for Britain to lose sovereignty in traditional ways (domestic) and gain it in unconventional areas (E.U.). Therefore, I have determined that Britain’s sovereignty and governance have changed rather than been mistakenly ‘given away’.