This chapter presents the theoretical framework of this book. Whilst developing a critique of established approaches to European integration, I outline an alternative approach grounded in a historical materialism that emphasises the role of transnational social forces in the construction of European socio-economic order. I will call this alternative approach ‘neo-Gramscian transnationalism’, as it builds upon the so-called neo-Gramscian perspective within International Relations (IR) and International Political Economy (IPE), which takes the transnational nature of world politics – as embedded in the social relations of global capitalism – as its point of departure.1 This then implies a fundamental break with the state-centrism that still dominates IR, not just in the guise of the long-predominant neo-realist theory (Waltz 1979) – which sees world politics as pure inter-state politics in which states compete (in a zero-sum game) for wealth and power within an anarchic system of self-help – but also in the form of many contemporary liberal theories, particularly what has been called neo-liberalism (Keohane 1984a, 1989), and recently showing its tenacity in Alexander Wendt’s (1999) explicitly state-centric ‘social theory of international politics’.