Regionalism definition/Main advantages/Old and New/ related concepts

Regionalism is the development of political, economic or social systems based on loyalty to a distinct geographic region with a largely ideological and culturally homogeneous population. Regionalism often leads to formally agreed upon agreements between groups of countries with the aim of expressing a common sense of identity while achieving common goals and improving quality of life. Regionalism definition

Main advantages: Regionalism

  • Regionalism is the development of political and economic systems based on loyalty to distinct geographic regions.
  • Regionalism often results in formal political or economic arrangements between groups of countries aimed at achieving common goals.
  • Regionalism flourished after the end of the Cold War and the global dominance of the two superpowers.
  • Economic regionalism results in formal multinational agreements designed to allow the free flow of goods and services between countries.

Old and New Regionalism

Attempts to establish such regionalist initiatives began in the 1950s. Sometimes called the “old regionalism” period, these early initiatives largely failed, with the exception of the establishment of the European Community in 1957. The current period of “new regionalism” started after the end of Cold War , the fall of the Berlin Wall , and the dissolution of the Soviet Union ushered in a period of increasing global economic integration. This economic optimism resulting from these developments led to regional organizations that were more open to participation in multinational trade than those that formed in the era of old regionalism. Regionalism definition

After the Cold War, the new world political and economic order was no longer dominated by the competition between two superpowers – the US and the Soviet Union – but by the existence of multiple powers. In the period of new regionalism, multi-state agreements were increasingly shaped by non-economic factors such as environmental and social policy, as well as policy to encourage transparency and accountability in governance. Several scholars have concluded that while the new regionalism was affected by globalization , globalization was similarly shaped by regionalism. In many cases, the impacts of regionalism have promoted, changed or reversed the effects of globalization and transnationalism .

Since the failure of the World Trade Organization’s Doha round of negotiations in 2001, regionalist trade agreements have flourished. The theory underlying regionalism holds that as a region becomes more economically integrated, it inevitably also becomes more politically integrated. Established in 1992, the European Union (EU) is an example of a politically and economically integrated multinational entity that has evolved after 40 years of economic integration in Europe. The predecessor of the EU, the European Community, was a purely economic arrangement. Regionalism definition

Regional vs. regionalist

Regional political parties may or may not be regionalist parties. A regional political party is any political party, regardless of its goals and platform, seeks to capture power at the state or regional level but does not aspire to control the national level of government. For example, the Aam Aadmi Party (Party of the Common Man) in India is a regional party that has controlled the Delhi state government since 2015. In contrast, “regionalist” parties are subsets of regional parties that specifically strive to gain greater autonomy. politics or independence within their regions.

When, as they often do, regional or regionalist sub-parties fail to gain sufficient public support to win legislative seats or become politically powerful, they may try to be part of a coalition government – a type of government in which political parties cooperate to form or try to form a new government. Recent prominent examples include Lega Nord (League of the North), a regionalist political party from the Piedmont region of Italy, Sinn Féin the party’s membership in the Northern Ireland Executive since 1999, and the Flemish New Alliance’s participation in the Federal Government. from Belgium since 2014. Regionalism definition

Not all regional or regionalist parties seek greater autonomy or federalism —A system of government under which two levels of government exercise a range of control over the same geographic area. Examples include most provincial and territorial parties in Canada, most parties in Northern Ireland, and most of the nearly 2,700 registered political parties in India. In most cases, these parties seek to advance special interest causes such as environmental protection, religious freedom, reproductive rights, and government reform.

Regionalism and related concepts

Although regionalism, autonomism, secessionism, nationalism and sectionalism are interrelated concepts, they often have different and sometimes opposite meanings.


Autonomy is the state of not being under the control of another person. Autonomism, as a political doctrine, supports the acquisition or preservation of the political autonomy of a nation, region, or group of people. In Canada, for example, the Quebec Autonomism movement is a political belief that the province of Quebec should seek to gain more political autonomy, without seeking to secede from the Canadian federation. The Union Nationale was a conservative and nationalist party that identified with Quebec’s autonomism. Regionalism definition

While full autonomy applies to an independent state, some autonomous regions may have a greater degree of self-government than the rest of the country. For example, in the US and Canada, many indigenous nations have autonomy from federal and state governments within their reserved territories . Sales on Indigenous Peoples reservations are not subject to state or local sales tax, and state gambling laws do not apply to such reservations.


Secession occurs when a country, state or region declares its independence from the ruling government. Significant examples of secession include the United States of Great Britain in 1776, the former Soviet republics of the Soviet Union in 1991, Ireland from the United Kingdom in 1921, and the Southern States of the United States leaving the Union in 1861 . States sometimes use the threat of secession as a means of achieving more limited goals. It is therefore a process that begins when a group officially announces its secession – the US Declaration of Independence , for example. Regionalism definition

Most countries treat secession as a criminal act that justifies retaliation with the use of military force. As a result, secession can affect international relations as well as the civil peace and national security of the country from which a group splits. In rare cases, a government may voluntarily agree to recognize the independence of a seceding state, especially when other countries support secession. However, most countries zealously protect their sovereignty and consider the involuntary loss of land and wealth unthinkable.

The laws of most countries punish those who separate or try to separate. Although the United States does not have specific laws on secession, Chapter 15 of the US Code identifies treason , rebellion or insurrection, seditious conspiracy , and advocating the overthrow of the government as crimes punishable by several years in prison and substantial fines. Regionalism definition


Nationalism is a fervent and often obsessive belief that a person’s country of origin is superior to all other countries. Like autonomy, nationalism aims to guarantee the country’s right to govern itself and to insulate itself from the effects of international influences. However, when taken to its extremes, nationalism often gives rise to the popular belief that one country’s superiority entitles it to dominate other countries, often through the use of military force. During the 19th and early 20th centuries, for example, nationalism was used to justify imperialism and colonialism across Europe, Asia, and Africa . This feeling of superiority differentiates nationalism from patriotism. While patriotism is similarly characterized by pride in one’s own country and a willingness to defend it, nationalism extends pride to arrogance and the desire to use military aggression against other countries and cultures.

Nationalist fervor can also drive nations into periods of isolationism . In the late 1930s, for example, popular support for isolationism in reaction to the horrors of World War I played a significant role in preventing the United States from becoming involved in World War II until the Japanese Attack on Pearl Harbor .

Arising largely as a response to the global financial crises of the 20th and 21st centuries, economic nationalism refers to policies designed to protect a country’s economy from competition in the global marketplace. Economic nationalism opposes globalization in favor of the perceived security of protectionism – the economic policy of restricting imports from other countries through excessive tariffs on imported goods, import quotas, and other government regulations. Economic nationalists also oppose immigration on the basis of the belief that immigrants “steal” jobs from native citizens. Regionalism definition


As opposed to the multinational aspect of regionalism, sectionalism is an extreme and potentially dangerous devotion to the social, political and economic interests of a region over those of the country as a whole. Far above and beyond simple local pride, sectionalism springs from more deeply rooted cultural, economic, or political differences that, if left unchecked, can evolve into secessionism. In this context, sectionalism is considered the opposite of nationalism. Examples of sectionalism can be found in a number of countries, such as the United Kingdom and Scotland, where various sectional-sectionist political parties have existed since the early 1920s.

Sectionalism has created tensions between several small regions throughout American history. However, it was the conflicting views of the institution of slavery held by the citizens of the Southern and Northern states that ultimately led to the American Civil War . Regionalism definition

Economic Regionalism

In contrast to traditional nationalism, economic regionalism describes formal multinational agreements designed to allow the free flow of goods and services between countries and to coordinate foreign economic policies in the same geographic region. Economic regionalism can be seen as a conscious effort to manage the opportunities and constraints created by the dramatic increase in multinational trade agreements since the end of World War II and especially since the end of the Cold War. Examples of economic regionalism include free trade agreements, bilateral trade agreements, common markets, and economic unions.

In the decades following World War II, several regional economic integration agreements were established in Europe, including the European Free Trade Association in 1960 and the European Community in 1957, which reorganized into the European Union in 1993. success of such agreements flourished after the Cold War tension dissipated. For example, the North American Free Trade Agreement ( NAFTA ), and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations ( ASEAN ) free trade area relied on geographic proximity as well as relatively homogeneous political structures—particularly democracy —and cultural traditions. shared. Regionalism definition

Types of economic regionalism can be classified by their levels of integration. Free trade areas such as the European Free Trade Association (EFTA), which eliminates or greatly reduces customs duties among its members, are the most basic expression of economic regionalism. Customs unions such as the European Union (EU) exhibit a higher degree of integration by imposing a common tariff on non-member nations. Common markets such as the European Economic Area ( EEA) are added to these arrangements, allowing the free movement of capital and labor between member countries. Monetary unions, such as the European Monetary System, which operated from 1979 to 1999, require a high degree of political integration among member countries, seeking full economic integration through the use of a common currency, a common economic policy and elimination of all tariff and non-tariff trade barriers.

“Hard” economic regionalism features a high level of institutional integration achieved through shared rules and decision-making processes designed to limit the autonomy of individual member countries. Today’s European Union is considered an example of strict economic regionalism, having evolved from a free trade area to a customs union, a common market, and finally to an economic and monetary union. In contrast, “loose” economic regionalism lacks such formal and binding institutional arrangements, relying on informal consultative mechanisms and consensus building. NAFTA, as a developed free trade area and not quite an economic union, falls into a loosely defined category between tight and flexible economic regionalism. Regionalism definition

Regional economic arrangements can also be classified according to how they treat non-member countries. “Open” arrangements do not impose trade limitations, exclusions or discrimination against non-member nations. Unconditional most favored nation status, in accordance with the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade ( GATT ), is a typical feature of open regionalism. In contrast, “closed” forms of regional economic arrangements impose protectionist measures to limit non-members’ access to member countries’ markets.

Historically, open regionalism has resulted in the liberalization of global trade, while closed regionalism has led to trade wars and sometimes to military conflict. Open regionalism, however, faces the challenge of balancing or “harmonizing” the different economic policies of many countries. Since the last decades of the 20th century, the trend has been towards the further development of institutions that promote open and restricted economic regionalism. Regionalism definition

Although economics and politics are similar and complement each other in many ways, in the context of economic and political regionalism, it is important to note that they are two contrasting concepts. Economic regionalism strives to create expanded trade and economic opportunities through cooperation between countries in the same geographic region. In contrast to the notion of building new concepts, political regionalism aims to create a union of countries with the intention of protecting or strengthening shared values ​​already established.

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