chapter  1
11 Pages

Theories of regionalism

ByFredrik Söderbaum

This handbook underlines the multidimensionality and pluralism of contemporary regionalism1. As a discipline, regionalism has become a research field in itself, rather than being limited to a more narrow state-or policy-driven process conceptualized in terms of ‘regional integration’ in the traditional sense. This has given rise to a number of new puzzles and challenges for both academics and policymakers, with a subsequent proliferation of a very large number of theories and concepts. A single chapter such as this cannot do justice to the diverse theoretical landscape. The goal of this chapter is, therefore, limited to giving an overview of some of the key theoretical debates and controversies that are particularly relevant for the study of Asian regionalism. More specifically, it will relate Asian regionalism to the historical development of the field in general, and to the overemphasis on European integration theory and practice in the field, as well as considering the crucial relationship between formal and informal regionalism. The study builds upon the understanding that it is not relevant to develop a theory about Asian regionalism per se. Rather, it is of specific interest to situate it within a more general theoretical and comparative discussion. It will be assumed, however, that Asia is crucial to the further development of the field.