Micropatriology (from micro + patriology literally 'study of small fathers', incorrectly understood as 'study of small father[lands]', sometimes rendered as micropatrology in some literature) is a social science concerned with the scholarly analysis of micronations—and, in a broader sense, the study of the micronational community and micronationalism as a political phenomenon or a hobby. Whilst the discipline includes the academic study of micronations by external observers, most micropatriology is conducted from within the community itself by interested amateurs and is concerned with how micronations operate, from where micronational governments derive their authority, and what the purpose of a micronation is. In some micronations, micropatriology is an active topic of political discourse and political actors take stances on micropatriological issues alongside economic and social ones.
Academic analysis of micronationalism has largely focused on micronations as a means of political and social activism, generally connected with individualist anti-establishment views; comparatively little focus has been given to micronations that exist in the context of micronationalism and the micronational community, which started to emerge in the late 1990s through the internet and was well-established by the 2000s. Virtually all micropatriology from within the community is based on the principle that all micronations are either secessionist (treating a micronation as an unrecognised state) or simulationist (treating a micronation as a hobby or simulation). Since the early 2010s, the dominant paradigm in the MicroWiki community has been classical micropatriology, which excludes interactive geofiction from micronationalism and regards any micronation that formally declares independence as secessionist.
Micronationalism as nationalism
Jose Pedro Zúquete argues that micronationalism in Europe is part of an identitarian against globalisation and supranational integration projects like the European Union, with micronations a way to reassert local distinctness. Similarly, whilst Bronwyn Winter proposes that micronations "are rooted in various combinations of protest, self-aggrandizement, sometimes financial considerations (fiscal evasion being a common basis for a micronation), and simply creative fantasy", she argues that, particularly in Australia, the existence of micronations demonstrates "that the idea of national sovereignty and the political, economic, and territorial rights that go with it are of fundamental importance to individuals and social groups, however constituted, even if the nation is simply an extension of one individual".
Ryan Anderson's aislamiento—micronations as islands
Ralph Kober in 2018 analysed the Principality of Hutt River through Ryan Anderson's concept of aislamiento, a sense of geographical and psychological isolation that constitutes a place as an "island". Kober concluded that as Hutt River was in an isolated area and HRH Prince Leonard was happy to "maroon himself there", the micronation constituted an island, revealing the "deeply social and political nature of aislamiento".
Micropatriology from the community
Classical micropatriology is a paradigm of micropatriology that became ascendant in the early 2010s, based on a two-dimensional division between two definitions of simulationism and secessionism, termed classical simulationism and classical secessionism respectively. Classical micropatriology emerged to distinguish simulationism and secessionism within micronationalism, rejecting the earlier model that interactive geofiction was "simulationist micronationalism" and that all of what is now considered to be part of micronationalism was "secessionist micronationalism." In classical micropatriology, the defining distinction between simulationism and secessionism is that the latter included a formal commitment to achieving recognition from macronations.
The micronational compass is a two-dimensional model of micropatriology developed in 2019 and 2020. It has two axes, one distinguishing simulationism and secessionism and the other distinguishing organic and constructed cultures. The former axis is defined differently to in classical micropatriology; on the micronational compass, "simulationist" means that a micronation simulates the process of government, economics, and so on, running like a roleplay, while "secessionist" means that a micronation's government actually provides some services or protection, and its economy actually functions, and so on. If the discussions in government and internal politics of a micronation are just meaningless fun, the micronation is more simulationist; if the discussions actually matter and people are genuinely invested in the alternative outcomes, the micronation is more secessionist.
Parallel plane theory
Parallel plane theory is an approach to micropatriology in which micronations and macronations are seen as existing on two non-overlapping planes of existence.
Motive micropatriology was developed in 2021 as a proposed replacement for Classical micropatriology. Motive micronationalism relies on a two-dimensional model, featuring a ludic and narrative axis, and a hobby and achievement axis. The school of thought was developed as a criticism of Classical micropatriology, with Gaius Soergel Publicola stating in an article for Veritum Sandus that Motive theory was a continuation of New Secessionism on the basis of the 'emperors new clothes' criticism. The model uses different criteria for classification of micronations; the ludic vs narrative spectrum measures the motive behind the day to day activity of a micronation, whereas the hobby vs achievement spectrum measures the motive behind the practical goal of the micronation.
- Zúquete, Jose Pedro. Identity against Globalism, p. 112. Notre Dame, Indiana: University of Notre Dame Press, 2018.
- Winter, Bronwyn. "Where Is the ʺPost-9/11 Worldʺ?", in Women, Insecurity, and Violence in a Post-9/11 World, p. 28. Syracuse, New York: Syracuse University Press, 2017.
- The Principality of Hutt River: A Territory Marooned in the Western Australian Outback, Shima: The International Journal of Research into Island Cultures, 2018.
- Anderson, Ryan. Islands Within an Almost Island: History, myth, and aislamiento in Baja California, Mexico, Shima: The International Journal of Research into Island Cultures, 2016.
- Blackwood, Ives. Introduction to New Secessionism. Starlight Green: Glastieven University Press, 2019.