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Why We Need to 'Unpack' Regions to Compare Them More Effectively


States are finding it increasingly difficult to provide good governance in response to today's problems in a globalised world, as they are often either too small or too big to cope with current crises. One of the strategies of states to remedy this situation is to construct regional levels of governance at the supranational or national level. This has led to the creation of diverse forms of regional governance worldwide, thereby ushering in a neo-Westphalian world of states and regions. In order to advance the research agenda of comparative regionalism, scholars need to 'unpack' regions along several conceptual dimensions. This includes seeing regions as economic areas, public goods spaces as well as actors in the international arena. In addition, a distinction needs to be made in studying the projects, processes and products of region building. Moreover, studying regions needs to take into account the discursive context of 'regionalism speak'. Finally, more attention needs to be dedicated to the internal complexity of regionalisms. In sum, comparing regions is not a straightforward exercise, and in some case regions should not be compared with other regions, but with states.

Keywords: comparative analysis, constructivism, states and regions, discourses