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Comparative Regionalism: A Field Whose Time has Come?


Is comparative regionalism a field whose time has come? While the contemporary interest in comparing regions and regionalisms may be not completely new, it is different from older approaches. Our understanding of what makes regions has changed with social constructivist and critical theoretical approaches that have led to a less behavioural and more nuanced, complex, contested and fluid understanding of regions. Moreover, the globalisation phenomenon has deeply affected all social sciences and radically redefined the relative autonomy of regions. In keeping with the rapid growth and development of regionalism and institutions in the non-Western world, including in regions which were relatively late starters, such as Asia, there have emerged new ways of looking at regional cooperation, including claims about distinctive approaches and even 'models' that are not only different from those identified with the EU, but also supposedly more appropriate and thus 'workable' for non-Western regions than the EU straightjacket.

Keywords: comparative regionalism, regional integration theory, new regionalism, constructivism, norm subsidiarity