Carmen Gebhard, Application pattern I: The BSR – A Micro-Cosmic Version of the EU? in:

Carmen Gebhard

Unravelling the Baltic Sea Conundrum, page 164 - 188

Regionalism and European Integration Revisited

1. Edition 2008, ISBN print: 978-3-8329-4084-3, ISBN online: 978-3-8452-1239-5

Series: Nomos Universitätsschriften - Politik, vol. 164

Bibliographic information
164 Rationalist Institutionalism Constructivist Institutionalism EU strategy towards candidate countries Conditionality: the EU uses conditional incentives to influence candidate countries. The clarity of the EU demands is perceived to be crucial just as the general credibility of the conditionality. Legitimacy is perceived to be achieved through overt pressure rather than through ‘soft tactics’. Socialisation: candidate countries come to consider that the EU’s rules have an intrinsic value, regardless of the material incentives for adopting them. Factors facilitating the process are: positive identification with the EU and the legitimacy of demands in light of the rewards. Table 18: Rationalist vs. Constructivist Institutionalism 576 As this example shows, the dichotomy between rationalist and constructivist models of explanation is highly significant when it comes to the question of how the EU interacts with member states, or in this case, with candidate countries. Given this strong compatibility with contributions from the constructivist camp, the model of Rational/ Liberal Institutionalism will be taken up at another point of this study.577 C. Applying Integration Theory to the Baltic Sea Case – Application Patterns The following chapter is based on the assumption that there are two basic ways of drawing on EIT in light of the purpose of this study. These two application patterns build the analytical point of reference for this study: application pattern I Both the European integration process and Baltic Sea Regionalism are assumed instances of regional integration. Therefore, it appears viable to apply European Integration Theories directly to the Baltic Sea Case. From this angle, the BSR is treated like a sort of micro-cosmic version of the EU, meaning an integrative unit with a specific regional and territorial affiliation. application pattern II This pattern is based on the consideration that the BSR as a European region holds a close albeit not exclusive connection to the EU. Thus, it appears legitimate to ask for a theoretical incorporation of what could be called the meso-macro connection, with the BSR being the meso-unit and the EU building the respective macro-framework. Table 19: Application Patterns for the Critical Discussion of EIT in the BSR Case 576 Table generated on the basis of SEDELMEIER Ulrich: Europeanisation in new member and candidate states. In: Living Reviews in European Governance, No. 3/2006. Online publication [23 December 2007]. 577 See chapter “Neoliberal/Rational Institutionalism”, p. 168-. 165 I. Application pattern I: The BSR – A Micro-Cosmic Version of the EU? A huge part of the theoretical models developed in the field of regional integration limit themselves to the specific model of European integration.578 According to Beeson, this is mainly because nowhere regionally-based processes of integration have gone further than in post-1945 Western Europe.579 These approaches have been directly inspired by the European project. Hence, in the first place, their applicability to integrative actions and processes in regional contexts other than the overall European (such as Baltic Sea Regionalism) must be questioned. The next problem results from the fact that the catchment area of the European project, as a macro-regional phenomenon, is much broader, involving both a bigger territory and a wider functional scope. Finally yet importantly, the European integration process has largely been driven by state-level actors while the phenomenon of Baltic Sea Regionalism has never been restricted to the intergovernmental sphere. Hence, can theoretical approaches to EI really explain mesoregional phenomena of regionalism? Can a European “sub-region” like the BSR be conceptually perceived as a “micro-cosmic” version of the macro-region “Europe”? The debate about whether the EU constitutes an n of 1 and whether, as a consequence, inductive generalizations from the study of the EU cannot lead to generally applicable knowledge is almost as old as the study of the EU itself.580 It may be assumed that basically, the major paradigms in EIT, such as the two traditional opponents of functional and realist or intergovernmentalist logic of integration can be applied in the meso-regional context without distorting the analytical key message of the respective approaches. However, the significance and explanatory power is likely to be relative or limited in certain respects. The traditional theoretical approaches to European integration can probably serve as a tool to describe the character and the dynamics of Baltic Sea Regionalism, while their power to explain the process might be more restricted. In the following section, a selection of EIT approaches will be discussed in line with the above application pattern I, thus taking the Baltic Sea case as a micro-cosmic version of the European project, and applying the models produced in this very European context directly to the subject of this study. 1. Application of Selected Approaches to the BSR Case The following schemes intend to illustrate the above-stated assumptions about the applicability and explanatory power of European Integration Theories by picking out some of the most prominent theoretical models. The (non-exhaustive) overview lists the leading proponent(s), offers a brief introduction to the basic claims of each theoretical model, and then provides a brief interpretation in light of the research question. 578 Hurrell points at the problem that some approaches to regional integration claim to be generally applicable, but that eventually, all they present is a “bit more than the translation of a particular set of European experiences into a more abstract theoretical language.” HURRELL Andrew: The Regional Dimension in International Relations Theory. In: FARRELL Mary/HETTNE Björn/VAN LANGENHOVE Luk (eds): Global Politics and Regionalism. London 2005, pp. 38-53, here p. 38. 579 See BEESON Mark: Re-Thinking Regionalism. Europe and East Asia in Comparative Historical Perspective. Paper presented at the Oceanic Conference on International Studies. Canberra, 14-16 July 2004, p. 5. 580 JACHTENFUCHS Markus: Deepening and widening integration theory. In: Journal of European Public Policy. Vol. 9/4 August 2002, pp. 650-657, here p. 650. 166 a. Neo-Realism Waltz, Morgenthau, Mearsheimer, Grieco From a neo-realist perspective, state interests and power are the major factors to determine the development of integrative projects;581 stressing the anarchical and decentralized nature of the international system and the ensuing condition of permanent power competition, regional cooperation is said to arise in reaction to an external threat or a countervailing power. States possess consistently ordered goals and select their strategies in order to achieve these goals in the largest possible measures. International cooperation involves the voluntary adjustment of state policies in a way that helps to reach a mutually desired goal. The unequal distribution of capabilities is thought to limit inter-state cooperation, since state attitude is driven by the fear of relative gains made by others.582 According to the system-level explication of cooperative integration suggested by the (neo) realist camp, Baltic Sea Regionalism could be interpreted and described as the structural undertaking of a group of states following the (natural) imperative of survival in the global political system, and trying to balance their weaknesses as either small, weak or subordinate actors. The neo-realist model does not consider any potential non-state actor; neither does it include any consideration about the nature and institutional organisation of the emerging cooperative formation. While for traditional realist thinking, regions were treated as more of an “anomaly” than a reality, Neo-Realism has difficulties to explain the existence of regions without automatically seeing them as state-centered alliance formations and as tools for nation states to further their interests. For theorists like Waltz, a world of regions does not seem to be much more than the return to a system of multi-polar balance of power.583 Moreover, Neo-Realism largely fails to explain systemic changes, such as those following the end of the Cold War, as well as to consider the respective social and political challenges that emerge in similar historical situations. 581 Both Realism and Neo-Realism cannot be perceived as classic Integration Theories in the narrow sense. From a neo-realist perspective, bodies like the EU are placed into a broad structural and systemic context of the “global political society”. The European project was largely interpreted as a response to the emergence and establishment of superpower rivalry, a reactive attitude of Europe trying to shield itself against the Communist threat. The specific internal processes have been largely neglected by neo-realist thinkers. See STONE Alec: What is a Supranational Constitution? An Essay in International Relations Theory. In: Review of Politics 55/3, pp. 441-474, here p. 458. The specific differences between Realism and Neo-Realism are neglected in this scheme because they do not have direct relevance for the research perspective of this study. 582 GRIECO Joseph M.: Realist Theory and the Problem of International Cooperation. Analysis with an amended Prisoner’s Dilemma Model. In: The Journal of Politics, No. 3/1988, pp. 600-625, here p. 600. 583 See WALTZ Kenneth: The Emerging Structure of International Politics. In: International Security, No. 2/1993, pp. 44-79, here p. 45. 167 b. Liberal Intergovernmentalism Hoffmann, Moravcsik As a “liberal modification of Realism”,584 this approach has also a distinct statecentric focus and stresses the significance of relative power understood in terms of asymmetrical interdependence. However, unlike in the realist model, Liberal Intergovernmentalism (LI) does not see state interest arise from each state’s perception of its own relative power, but from a national state-society interaction (resulting in demand for integration outcomes). It holds that state preferences, rather than material power or capabilities build the primary determinant of nation state behaviour. Once the interests are formulated, they are bargained at the intergovernmental level. These bargaining procedures occur, again, between states and basing on rationalist considerations. The EC/EU treaties are seen as the key independent variable shaping the integration process. Increasing integration is perceived to materialise in big decisions; these “bargains”, again, are mainly seen as the result of shifting, and eventually, merging state preferences. Supranational institutions are perceived to be of limited importance to the overall process of integration, which is by contrast thought to be largely dominated by intra-state negotiation and bargaining. According to this model, the state also constitutes the “critical intermediary between the Commission and sub-national regimes.”585 In line with the liberal intergovernmentalist approach, regionalist processes in the BSR could be understood as the outcome of a series of rational choices made by national leaders. These choices were taken in reaction to the demands of outcomes formulated by powerful domestic constituents. The explanatory weakness of LI lies, again, in its state-centeredness and in its exclusively rationalist orientation. By focusing mainly on processes of interstate bargaining, LI offers a rather reduced, and to some extent distorted view on complex political action and development. The dominating ‘hard bargaining’ image conceals the significance of “soft” causeeffect chains that potentially emerge from “within” a trans-national region like the BSR. Moreover, LI has a particularly strong focus on the EU polity system as a type of its own (sui generis); this poses decisive limitations to the applicability of the approach to other than the European context. 584 SCHMITTER Philippe C./MALAMUD Andrés: Theorizing Regional Integration and Inter-Regional Relations. Workshop Proposal. Florence/Lisbon 2006, p. 3. Website of the European University Institute, Florence [22 November 2007]. 585 See ANSELL Christopher K./PARSONS Craig A./DARDEN Keith A.: Dual Networks in European Regional Policy Development. In: Journal of Common Market Studies, No. 3/1997, pp. 347-375, here p. 358. 168 c. Neo-Functionalism Haas Neo-Functionalism places major emphasis on the role of non-state actors, which act within a supranational structure (e.g. the EU General Secretariat). Integration is perceived to be a conflictual process, in which states find themselves entangled by functional pressure. States counter this pressure by conceding a wider scope and devolving more authority to the supranational institutions they have created. Political integration is thought to be achieved through so-called spill over effects spinning off from economic and social integration. Political integration and the growth of authority at the supranational level occur as long-term consequence of modest (economic) integration. Neo-Functionalism completed the functionalist “form follows function” logic with what could be called “function follows interests”. In case of successful economic cooperation, self-interested groups of actors are drawn into the game through political spill over.586 Haas defined integration as the process “whereby political actors in several, distinct national settings are persuaded to shift their loyalties, expectations and political activities toward a new centre, whose institutions process or demand jurisdiction over the preexisting nation states.”587 States remain important actors, but they do not exclusively determine the direction and extent of political change. Sub-national or non-state actors are not explicitly referred to in traditional neo-functional writings; however, according to the logic of Neo-Functionalism, they would build an important ally for supranational actors, since an alliance between the two levels would progressively sideline the structural position that nation states use to have. Even though Neo-Functionalism is – just as its opponent, Realism – state-centric in the sense that states (albeit not heads of states) do form the main type of actor, it still fails to assess how e.g. state preferences emerge and to what extent they could, in fact, hamper the flow of integration or “spill-over”. The (close to) automatic shift from economy or society based pressure for integration to the materialisation of political integration as it is suggested by the neo-functionalist model appears to have only little explanatory value for the Baltic Sea case. The pressure for integration present in the BSR after the end of the Cold War was strongly driven by state interests, since the Baltic States strived for Westernization, and thus, decided to use the regional arena in order to anticipate the effects of full integration. Applying the logic of a functional spill over to the specific development of the BSR networked structure appears difficult in that the regionalist wave emerging after 1989 did not follow any recognisable sequence in functional terms. Political integration cannot be perceived to have been anticipated by cooperation in other policy fields. The BSR development could rather be described as an emerging creative chaos of functionally intersecting and parallel cooperative formations. 586 See NIEMANN Michael: A Spatial Approach to Regionalisms in the Global Economy. Basingstoke 2000, p. 113. 587 HAAS Ernst B.: The Uniting of Europe. Political, Social and Economic Forces 1950-1957. Stanford 1958, p. 16. 169 Moreover, the Baltic Sea case has not (yet) experienced the creation of any supranational body or institution, and thus, lacks an important factor that is usually referred to in Neo-Functionalism. In fact, Baltic Sea Regionalism does not seem to be moving into the direction of progressive “deepening” in neo-functionalist terms. d. Multi-Level Governance Kohler-Koch, Jachtenfuchs, Marks, Hooghe During the 1980s, and most particularly, after the end of the Cold War, EIT gradually shifted away from the exclusive focus on integration processes and the general development of the European project; academia started to focus on the nature of the Union and its governance structure, i.e. its institutional specificities and the specific nature of its polity. Analysts of the governance strand of EIT largely perceive decision-making competencies as shared by actors at different levels rather than monopolized by national governments. The interactions between them are non-hierarchical and lacking a central, predominant authority. Governance is the production of authoritative decisions, which are not produced by a simple hierarchical structure […] but instead arise from the interaction of a plethora of public and private, collective and individual actors.588 Models of collective decision-making among states (such as the EU) are thought to involve a significant loss of control for national governments. Multi-level governance theorists largely claim that, rather than conceptualising regional policy as a national issue in which the lead role is taken by national institutions, it should be identified as an arena in which the EU plays an integral role in policy-making, together with the regional authorities and the central national institutions. In contrast to ‘government’, the concept of ‘governance’ is not restricted to the formal structures of state authority. It covers a wider notion of politics, including the production, accumulation and regulation of collective goods at all levels, the subnational, national, and international or supranational level.589 From thus point of view, political arenas are rather loosely interconnected than tightly nested. Subnational actors operate in both national and supranational arenas. Triadic alliances between the sub-national, national and supranational level shift, depending on immediate interests.590 588 CHRISTIANSEN Thomas/FØLLESDAL Andreas/PIATTONI Simona: Informal Governance in the European Union. An Introduction. In: CHRISTIANSEN Thomas/PIATTONI Simona (eds): Informal Governance in the European Union. Cheltenham/Northampton 2003, pp. 1-21, here p. 6. See also JACHTENFUCHS Markus: Democracy and Governance in the European Union. In: European Integration Online Papers (EIoP), No. 2/1997. 589 See MARSH David/FURLONG Paul: A Skin not a Sweater. Ontology and Epistemology in Political Science. In: MARSH David/STOKER Gerry (eds): Theory and Methods in Political Science. London 2001, pp. 17-41, here p. 37. 590 See HOOGHE Liesbet/MARKS Gary: Multi-Level Governance and European Integration. Lanham 2001, p. 47. 170 Due to its broad analytical orientation and its comprehensiveness, the notion of (multi-level) Governance has been termed “one of the most acceptable labels one can stick on the contemporary EU.”591 In fact, the descriptive neutrality of governance approaches has enhanced its compatibility with existing theoretical models, and thus, contributed to its relative popularity all across the field of European integration studies. The governance focus addresses both empirical and normative questions, and thus, not least helps to bridge the gap between old paradigmatic divides in integration theory.592 What seems significant for the purpose of this study is that Governance approaches not only describe the dispersion of authoritative competence across territorial levels but that they also draw particular attention to the interconnection of multilevel political arenas in the process of governing. While state-centric approaches to integration suggest a strict separation between domestic and international politics, the Governance strain assumes the existence of a multi-level or poly-centric structure that involves political interaction across all levels. The focus on polity at various different levels, or rather across various political action layers, meets an important specificity of the Baltic Sea case. The numerous types of actors involved in the process of regional and trans-regional interaction call for this kind of multi-layered perspective. However, most models developed under the label of multi-level governance remain largely indifferent towards the question of why individual actors choose to collaborate, and of how interests impact on the course of governance interaction. e. Neoliberal/Rational Institutionalism Keohane Emerging from the strand of philosophical ‘structuralism’ and drawing on interdependence theory, Neoliberal or Rational Institutionalism mainly insists on the importance of institutions and regimes in the structure of the international system and emphasises their influence on the behaviour of various actors. In short, the general rationale of this approach could be subsumed with the slogan that ‘institutions matter.’ It accepts the neo-realist image of the international system as a regulated anarchy with no central authority but it rejects the neo-realist assumption that the systemic structure determines the political conduct of states. The structure of the system can influence state behaviour, but states can also influence structures by building institutions.593 The empirical starting point is the increasing interdependence in the international system. Trans-national challenges necessitate coordination, which results in the build-up of regimes (institutionalization). 591 SCHMITTER Philippe C./MALAMUD Andrés: Theorizing Regional Integration and Inter-Regional Relations. Workshop Proposal. Florence/Lisbon 2006, p. 4. Website of the European University Institute, Florence [22 November 2007]. 592 See MELCHIOR Josef: New Spaces of European Governance. Introduction. In: Id. (ed.): New Spaces of European Governance. Vienna 2006, pp. 7-18, here p. 7. 593 See JOHANSSON Elisabeth: EU and its Near Neighbourhood: Subregionalization in the Baltic Sea and in the Mediterranean. In: WILLA Pierre/LEVRAT Nicolas (eds): Actors and Models. Assessing the European Union’s External Capability and Influence. Genève 2001, pp. 200-222, here p. 210. 171 Cooperation helps to achieve certain strategic goals, which might partly also be shared by the actors involved. According to this approach, the emergence of loose regimes is more likely, and significantly more efficient than the creation of supranational structures. The nation state retains considerable influence in both policy initiative and decision-making.594 Neoliberal Institutionalism appears to provide a comprehensive explanatory pattern for instances of regional integration as apparent in the BSR. While treating nation states as ‘rational egoists’595 and ‘effective gatekeepers’596 between the domestic and the international system, the approach does still not exclude the possibility that they are potentially ready, willing and able to engage in sustained cooperation. Neoliberal institutionalists rather argue that the management of (common) problems by way of cooperation may strengthen the role of the state involved. Interestingly, the approach puts power constellations, interests and preferences of states at the very heart of its research, focussing on what enhances and what constrains cooperative attitudes. The emergence and extension of cooperative networks is not perceived to be reflecting an alleged harmony of interests nor does it give clear evidence about growing economic interdependence. Cooperative regionalisation rather indicates national self-interest in – the simplification of processes; – the facilitation of interstate negotiation processes as well as – the constructive management of competitive dynamics. According to this logic of action, states try to foster linkages across certain policy areas of interests by negotiating packages; they profit from the outcomes of cooperation in the sense that transaction costs for action on the international or global scene are being reduced. While the preconditions underlying this argumentation highly comply with the analytical exigencies posed herein, the explicit focus on the nation state must, once again, be seen as a major drawback of this approach. Neoliberal Institutionalism does not consider the possibility of the nation state to become undermined by respective processes of regionalisation. Subregional cooperative interaction, be it on intergovernmental or non-official grounds, might possibly lead to the formation and establishment of informal transnational bureaucratic networks and alliances. This might entail the development of new forms of identity ranging both above and below the territorially confined state level, events that are largely not covered by the neoliberal institutionalist perspective.597 594 See ibd., here p. 211. 595 The notion of states being “rational egoists in a self-help world” has been taken over from the neorealist camp. See MEARSHEIMER John: The False Promise of International Institutions. In: International Security, No.3/Winter 1994-1995, pp. 5-49, here p. 23. 596 See POLLACK Mark A.: Theorizing the European Union. International Organization, Domestic Polity, or Experiment in New Governance? In: Annual Review of Political Science, No. 8/2005, pp. 357-398, here p. 383. 597 See HURRELL Andrew: Explaining the Resurgence of Regionalism in World Politics. In: Review of International Studies, No. 2/1995, pp. 331-358, here p. 349. 172 2. Excursus: Social Constructivism a. The Discursive Construction of Regions Since a couple of years, in Political Science, and most notably, in European Integration Studies, it has become bon ton to argue on constructivist grounds. Drawing on the large array of constructivist analyses generated in the field of psychology, sociology or linguistics, many political scientists have started to base their considerations about European integration on the general assumption that all social and political phenomena could be regarded as discursively constructed. These tendencies are often referred to as emerging from an academic community based in the Danish capital, the so-called Copenhagen School.598 Social constructivist models have been among the most popular, and arguably, among the most contested approaches in the “New Europe”. [Social] Constructivism has been explained, applied, positioned. It has been celebrated by some and dismissed by others. Whatever one’s view on the matter, constructivism has become increasingly difficult to avoid.599 In the 1990s, Social Constructivism has literally flooded the field of EIT. Notions like ‘the social construction of...’ are, as Katzenstein et al. put it, “littering the title pages of our books, articles and student assignments as did ‘the political economy of...’ in the 1980s.”600 The US sociologists Berger and Luckman can be called the pioneer thinkers of Social Constructivism. The box offers some of their most popular and influential quotes, which coined masses of studies on European and regional integration.601 Reality is a quality appertaining to phenomena that we recognize as having a being independent of our own volition; we cannot wish them away. (p. 1) Different objects present themselves to consciousness as constituents of different spheres of reality. My consciousness is capable of moving through different spheres of reality. […] I am conscious of the world as consisting of multiple realities. (p. 21) It is important to keep in mind that the objectivity of the institutional world, however massive it may appear to the individual, is a humanly produced, constructed objectivity. The process by which the externalized products of human activity attain the character of objectivity is objectivation. The reality of everyday life is not only filled with objectivations; it is only possible because of them. (p. 35). Any action that is repeated frequently becomes cast into a pattern, which can then be reproduced with an economy of effort and which, ipso facto, is apprehended by its performer as that pattern. This is the process of habitualization. (p. 53) 598 Barry Buzan and Ole Wæver are among the most prominent exponents of the Copenhagen School. 599 ZEHFUSS Maja: Constructivism and Identity. A Dangerous Liaison. In: European Journal of International Relations, No. 3/2001, pp. 315-348, here p. 315. 600 See KATZENSTEIN Peter/KEOHANE Robert O./KRASNER Stephen D.: International Organization and the Study of World Politics. In: International Organization, No. 4/1998, pp. 645-685, here p. 645. 601 BERGER Peter/LUCKMAN Thomas: The Social Construction of Reality. A Treatise in the Sociology of Knowledge. New York 1966. Exact location of the respective phrase given in brackets. 173 This habitualization precedes institutionalization. Institutionalization occurs whenever there is a reciprocal typification of habitualized actions by types of actors. (p. 54). Identity is a phenomenon that emerges from the dialectic between the individual and society. Identity types, on the other hand, are social products tout court, relatively stable elements of objective social reality […]. (p. 174) Table 20: Berger and Luckman: Key quotations of Constructivism The constructivist movement that captured the field of Integration Theory in the intermediate Post Cold War situation reverted to most of these seminal arguments about the nature and quality of society and more generally, of social reality. Since then, many different interpretations and variations of Social Constructivism have emerged. The perception of language and of its role and significance in research constituted an important point of reference for the development of different camps of Constructivism. Constructivist approaches were largely based on Wittgenstein’s interpretation of language that did not perceive the meaning of words to consist in their corresponding objects in the ‘outer world’, but in their specific use in political or social discourse. From this shared philosophical basis, Constructivism has roughly developed into two specific ways of interpretation. The sociological (or interpretative) constructivist perspective, also called ‘Constructive Realism’, mainly studies the impact of norms on actors’ identities, interests and behaviour, and stresses the importance of empirical work in order to approach the world “out there”.602 According to this interpretation, the ‘outer world’ is perceived to exist beyond the theorist’s view; the constructive power of language is limited to the context of political arguing and persuasion. [Sociological] Constructivism does not deny the existence of a phenomenal world, external to thought. This is the world of brute facts. It does oppose, and this is something different, that phenomena can constitute themselves as objects of knowledge independently of discursive practices. It does not challenge the possible thought-independent existence of (in particular natural) phenomena, but it challenges their language-independent observation.603 The more radical interpretation of Constructivism, also called ‘Critical’ or ‘Constructive Idealism’, does not assume any objective world but rather seeks to identify the way the world is constructed.604 According to this perspective, the material realities are no more ‘real’ than the discursive realities, as they do not exist independently as such. 602 According to the perspective of Constructive Realism, the agent has an epistemic but not an ontological influence on the world, meaning that knowledge is constructive in nature, but the existence of the world does not depend on the existence of a (constructing) agent. See CHRISTIANSEN Thomas/JØRGENSEN Knud Erik/WIENER Antje: The Social Construction of Europe. In: Journal of European Public Policy 6:4, Special Issue 1999, pp. 528-544, here p. 531. For more details, see also CHECKEL Jeffrey T.: Constructivist Approaches to European Integration. ARENA Working Paper, May 2006. Oslo 2006, p. 6. 603 GUZZINI Stefano: A Reconstruction of Constructivism in International Relations. In: European Journal of International Relations, No. 2/2000, pp. 147-182, here p. 159. 604 Rhe agent has both an epistemic and an ontological influence on the known world, meaning that the existence of the world is just as dependent as any other constructed reality. See CHRISTIANSEN Thomas/JØRGENSEN Knud Erik/WIENER Antje: The Social Construction of Europe. In: Journal of European Public Policy 6:4, Special Issue 1999, pp. 528-544, here p. 531. 174 In short: neither aspect can be detached from the influence of the other. From this point of view, speech is not merely symbolic action. Language is seen to constitute meaning and to be inherently related to the establishment of rules within specific contexts. This approach suggests that a speech act, if performed successfully, produces a specific meaning or normative construct that, in turn, leads to rule-following.605 Language is seen as much more than simply a ‘neutral’ instrument or medium used for expression and the exchange of information; it is the very resource base that is able to determine political legitimacy and power. Discourse analysis employed for these study purposes becomes “research on regularities and function of linguistic resources”, with the notion of “regularities” stressing the nonoccasional nature of statements. Political utterances are perceived as “structuralized and strategically employed systems of meaning-giving.”606 While this rigid version denies any sort of innate feature in the social or human world, “lighter versions” make do with stressing the significance of value-related dynamics in political discourse. However, in essence, all variations of Social Constructivism can be said to perceive every social or human phenomenon as, at least to some extent, discursively created and thus, virtually constructed through processes of discursive interaction. Constructivism is the view that the manner in which the material world shapes and is shaped by human action and interaction depends on dynamic normative and epistemic interpretations of the material world.607 In essence, the “constructivist game” consists in de-constructing and unpacking political discourse, trying to identify the normative factors that dominate and form political action and development.608 While the dominant schools of thought in IRT used (and still use) to take these normative factors as naturally or rather, as exogenously given and beyond the scope of analysis, Social Constructivism explicitly addresses the dynamics of identity constitution, construction and formation in international politics. In doing so, arguably, Constructivism has tried to produce a theoretical alternative to the neo-realist or functionalist paradigms. Constructivism emerged as an approach to break the stalemate that the mainstream debate ended in. Its critiques of mainstream scholarship focus on what it takes for granted or ignores. Constructivism studies the sources and the content of state interests and preferences, which are postulated, and it emphasizes the ideational and social side of international politics, which is ignored by the mainstream scholarship.609 Social constructivist arguments have also become very common and popular in recent studies about Baltic Sea Regionalism. Countless contributions on the discursive 605 See CHRISTIANSEN Thomas/JØRGENSEN Knud Erik/WIENER Antje: The Social Construction of Europe. In: Journal of European Public Policy 6:4, Special Issue 1999, pp. 528-544, here p. 535. 606 JUKARAINEN Pirjo: Norden is Dead. Long Live the Eastwards Faced Euro-North. Geopolitical Re- Making of Norden in a Nordic Journal. In: Cooperation and Conflict, No. 12/1999, pp. 355-382, here p. 360. 607 ADLER Emanuel: Seizing the Middle Ground. Constructivism in World Politics. In: European Journal of International Relations, No. 3/1997, pp. 319-363, here p. 322. 608 See TASSINARI Fabrizio: Mare Europaeum. Baltic Sea Region Security and Cooperation from post-Wall to post-Enlargement Europe. Copenhagen 2004, p. 82. 609 ULUSOY Hasan: Revising Security Communities After the Cold War. The Constructivist Approach. In: Perceptions. Journal of International Affairs, September-November 2003, p. 7. 175 construction of the BSR have mushroomed since the early 1990s. Many of these constructivist interpretations largely appeal to the Region-Building Approach (RBA) that – just in line with the main social constructivist argument – perceives regions as discursively constructed entities that are consciously constituted in the framework of specific political region-building projects. The so-called “classic” RBA was developed by Iver B. Neumann, a political scientist based in Oslo/Norway.610 The main difference of the RBA perspective on regionness or regions from other more traditional approaches to the analysis of regionalism lies in the fact that not the region itself is being analysed but rather the way the specific “regionness” is placed in political discourse.611 Geopolitical approach definition of the region according to external factors, such as natural landmarks or state borders; d e s c r ip t iv e Cultural approach definition of the region according to its specific “domestic” or cultural nature, e.g. distinguishing features, common heritage; Constructivist RBA emphasises the patterns and ways the geopolitical and cultural “facts” are selected and strategically rearranged in the region-building discourse. a n a ly t ic a l Table 21: Descriptive and Analytical Approaches to Regions While both the cultural and the geopolitical approach treat the existence of a region as given, the constructivist view focuses exactly on how the region is being generated (“constructed”); it looks at the process of the constitution and/or the perpetual genesis of regions.612 The analysis is focussed on the political arguments that are used to promote regionalism; these arguments avail themselves of the “raw material” offered by geography, history and culture. In essence, the RBA tries to identify which external and internal factors are being deployed in order to justify, and thus, to construct a region. While assuming that “regions are talked and written into existence”, the RBA tries to identify613 – how and on what grounds the existence of a region was postulated, – which actors perpetuate its existence, – which strategies they apply for that purpose, – how analysts of regions transport their knowledge to the community by either including or excluding certain aspects or factors relevant for the region.614 610 NEUMANN Iver B.: Regions in International Relations Theory. The Case for a Region-Building Approach. Oslo 1992. And NEUMANN Iver B.: A Region-Building Approach to Northern Europe. In: Review of International Studies, No. 20/1994, pp. 53-74. 611 Table generated on the basis of NEUMANN Iver B.: Uses of the Other. “The East” in European Identity. Manchester 1999, pp. 120-121. 612 See NEUMANN Iver B.: Regions in International Relations Theory. The Case for a Region-Building Approach. Oslo 1992, p. 35. 613 See NEUMANN Iver B.: A Region-Building Approach to Northern Europe. In: Review of International Studies, No. 20/1994, pp. 53-74, here p. 59. 614 NEUMANN Iver B.: Uses of the Other. “The East” in European Identity. Manchester 1999, pp. 41. 176 The existence of regions is preceded by the existence of region-builders, political actors who, as part of some political project, imagine a spatial and chronological identity for a region, and disseminate this imagined identity to others.615 In its rigid version the line of argumentation of the RBA could go as far to claim that specific actors pursuing the objective of building or ‘constructing’ a region, so called ‘region-builders’, strategically avail themselves of this ‘raw material’ in order to ‘manipulate the inter-subjective understanding of regions.’ If these region-builders succeed in communicating the regional identity and togetherness that supports their political objectives best, they eventually achieve the materialisation of their promoted vision, which is mostly, tangible transactions and governance structures, ideally based on individual or collective emotional attachments.616 History is, as pointed out before, a very popular tool for the promotion and normative justification of regionalist visions or region-building projects, since it offers many value-laden arguments that suggest the existence of an innate regional identity. Schäfer emphasises the close relation between the process of region-building and the one of identity formation. The identity of the region and the region itself are continually constructed in discourses through a demarcation of the self against the other. Therefore, the policy-makers who construct the identity of the BSR by means of their discursive practices also construct the region as a whole.617 The underlying constructivist claim of the classic RBA – that discourses are the very constituents of space – has also offered the analytical basis for critical geographers, often called “critical geopolitologists”.618 Ó Tuathail, one of the founding fathers of Critical Geography, stresses the power of mentally constructed spaces as follows: There is no such thing as neutral geography. Geography is about power. Although often assumed to be innocent, the geography of the world is not a product of nature but a product of histories of struggle between competing authorities over the power to organize, occupy, and administer space.619 In fact, these early contributions from “outside” the Political Science community constituted a seminal source of inspiration for respective approaches in integration theory, and more generally, in European Studies. Academic debates about “bordering and re-bordering Europe”, the “European territoriality” or “spatiality” and “regionness” 615 NEUMANN Iver B.: A Region-Building Approach to Northern Europe. In: Review of International Studies, No. 20/1994, pp. 53-74, here p. 58. 616 See ENGELEN Hilde Dominique: The Construction of a Region in the Baltic Sea Area. Geneva 2004, p. 14. 617 SCHÄFER Imke: Region-Building and Identity Formation in the Baltic Sea Region. In: The Interdisciplinary Journal of International Studies, Nr. 1/2005, pp. 45-69, here p. 65. 618 See e.g. TAYLOR Peter J./FLINT Colin (eds): Political Geography. World-Economy, Nation-State and Locality. Essex 2000. And Ó TUATHAIL Gearóid: The Language and Nature of the “New” Geopolitics: The Case of US-El Salvador Relations. In: Political Geography Quarterly, No. 5/1986, pp. 73-85. And BEREZIN Mabel/SCHAIN Martin (eds): Europe Without Borders. Remapping Territory, Citizenship and Identity in a Transnational Age. Baltimore 2003. And Ó TUATHAIL Gearóid/DALBY Simon/ROUTLEDGE Paul (eds): The Geopolitics Reader. New York 2006. 619 Ó TUATHAIL Gearóid: Critical Geopolitics. The Politics of Writing Global Space. London 1996, p. 1. 177 have entered the field at a rather late point.620 The Eastern enlargement and the discussion about a European Neighbourhood Policy as some sort of Ersatzenlargement appears to have sparked politological interest in these questions.621 Pirjo Jurakainen has produced an illustrative example of how a constructivist framework can be employed in order to analyse and characterise Baltic Sea Regionalism. She sets out to explain the “discursive spatial construction of Northernness” by analysing the respective political debate in the context of a Nordic Journal, the Nord Revy, thus, making methodical use of content analysis.622 Her choice of the journal was based on the fact that in the late 1990s, the Nord Revy had proved to be an attractive political forum for what she calls “the constructors of Northernness” that were “mastering northern space”, a group of activist individuals not only including academics and politicians but also other players from the private and civic sector. Interestingly, Jukarainen also points at the fact that the main exponents of Social Constructivism, among others Wæver, themselves actively contributed to the process of “talking the region into existence.”623 The following considerations build the starting point of her analysis: For at least three decades, starting from the 1960s, the dominant spatial representation of ‘Northernness’ used to be ‘Norden’. [...] The newly emerging eastwards-oriented and Europeanised ‘Northernness’ is more reminiscent of a complex and multilevel spatial network than a clearly delimited, homogeneous territory ‘between the two blocks’. […] The ‘North’ is beginning to exhibit a number of late-modern features. It is less territorial and has many layers and possible directions for future development.624 Following the constructivist traits of the RBA, Jukarainen treats “spaces as politically constructed, whilst discourses are seen as the very constituents of space.”625 Socially constructed ‘Northernness’ is like a constantly running videotape, out of which individual ‘still pictures’, that is to say specific contextual representations, can be taken and ‘frozen’ for more thorough analysis. These ‘still-pictures’ or ‘takes’ of ‘Northernness’, even if ordered sequentially, cannot, however, describe the whole movie’, though they can function as useful markers for deeper study. This examination of common ‘grounds’ is possible because these ‘takes’ of ‘Northernness’ all originate from the same complex network of discourses.626 620 See BROWNING Christopher S. (ed.): Remaking Europe in the Margins. Northern Europe after the Enlargements. Aldershot 2005. And CHRISTIANSEN Thomas/PETITO Fabio/TONRA Ben (eds): Fuzzy Politics around Fuzzy Borders. The European Union’s ‘Near Abroad’. In: Cooperation and Conflict, No. 4/December 2000, pp. 389-415. And CHRISTIANSEN Thomas: Towards Statehood? The EU’s move towards Constitutionalisation and Territorialisation. In: Centre for European Studies. University of Oslo (ed.): ARENA Working Paper, No. 21, August 2005. 621 For details on this ‘spatial turn’, see RUMFORD Chris: Rethinking European Spaces. Territory, Borders, Governance. In: Comparative European Politics, No. 4/2006, pp. 127-140. 622 See JUKARAINEN Pirjo: Norden is Dead. Long Live the Eastwards Faced Euro-North. Geopolitical Re-making of Norden in a Nordic Journal. In: Cooperation and Conflict, No. 12/1999, pp. 355-382, here p. 359. 623 See NEUMANN Iver B.: A Region-Building Approach to Northern Europe. In: Review of International Studies, No. 20/1994, pp. 53-74, here p. 59. 624 JUKARAINEN Pirjo: Norden is Dead. Long Live the Eastwards Faced Euro-North. Geopolitical Remaking of Norden in a Nordic Journal. In: Cooperation and Conflict, No. 12/1999, pp. 355-382, here p. 355. 625 Ibd., here p. 359. 626 Ibd., here p. 359. 178 Jukarainen suggests viewing the structure of the region as some sort of “discursive network” where discursive ‘texts’ (speeches, writings, maps, pictures and other types of representative material) are passively describing or reflecting what the northern space ‘really’ is, but are instead sources of activism that virtually construct a particular kind of discourse. She offers the following figure to depict the nature of this web of discourses. The process of discursive construction occurs in both the political and the social context, – social: the construction takes place intersubjectively, i.e. among various actors or social agents. The process could even be said to occur on trans-subjective grounds, since the individual contribution is eventually being merged;627 – political: the discursive actors compete over dominant positions. This consideration raises the significance of power relations between the single parties involved.628 The occurring region-building discourses are not organised in a fully predictable manner; rather than following a certain deterministic and linear development, they together form a “complex network with multiple development dimensions” meeting on either competing or complementary grounds.629 The model also provides for the consideration of so-called “nodal points” or “condensations of dominance”, meaning places where several discourses meet and potentially get linked to each other. These “condensations” allow the emergence of a certain “legitimate position” which makes them fairly consistent and durable.630 When it comes to the analytical identification of the “agents in charge” of discursive construction and their respective political or politico-strategic motivation, Jurakainen remains modest about the expressiveness of her model, stating that tracing the discoursing actors and their political motivation in greater detail might be “difficult if not entirely impossible.”631 627 See ibd., here p. 360. 628 See ibd., here p. 361. 629 See ibd., here p. 361. 630 See Jukarainen citing DIEZ Thomas: Die EU lesen. Diskursive Knotenpunkte in der britischen Europadebatte. Mannheim 1997. 631 JUKARAINEN Pirjo: Norden is Dead. Long Live the Eastwards Faced Euro-North. Geopolitical Remaking of Norden in a Nordic Journal. In: Cooperation and Conflict, No. 12/1999, pp. 355-382, here p. 362. Figure 6: Multiform Northernness, Generated by Pirjo Jukarainen 179 Therefore, this analysis leaves the question of the ‘ultimate origin’ of change to one side, instead focusing on the substance of the processes of social and spatial change; [and addressing questions like] what kind of space is/was Norden?632 This inherent process orientation is largely symptomatic for analyses conducted on social constructivist grounds. The political process takes centre stage while the actor’s role is reduced to the function of a discursive creator without further questioning or elaborating on the motivational level or the background of interests and power bargains. The contributions arising from the “spatial” – and largely constructivist – wave in EIT, with Jukarainen being a prime example, have certainly been significant to the extent that they have added a new perspective to challenge the mainstream debate. Despite high hopes for the constructivist venture – “hopes that any open-minded social scientist in the field must share”633 – it appears fruitful just as much as necessary to discuss a series of arguments that other theoretical camps are holding against the approach, challenging, in turn, its alleged explanatory power and self-stated ambitions. b. Why the Explanatory Power of Constructivism Remains Low The so-called “constructivist turn” in EIT – an expression that evokes the qualities of a methodological or technical revolution – has put forth a huge bulk of empirical work. By explicitly presenting themselves as some sort of premature contenders that aim to challenge a wide array of consistently developed and established traditional approaches to integration, constructivists have certainly exposed themselves to the methodological standard procedures of external testing. Social Constructivism has received harsh critics by several analysts, while others have repeatedly emphasised that it is still struggling to define its form.634 However, asking constructivists what substantively new insights they have on European integration is not a sign of indecent positivism that a good constructivist can safely ignore.635 So why let us not pose the “intriguing and timely question”:636 What has constructivist theory contributed to our social scientific understanding of the EU, and more generally, of the European integration process? Early contributions from the constructivist camp had a distinctly defensive tone, preferring to define the very theoretical orientation as rather what it is not about and in what respect it is different from existing theoretical paradigms. 632 Ibd., here p. 362. 633 MORAVCSIK Andrew: ‘Is Something Rotten in the State of Denmark?’ Constructivism and European Integration. In: Journal of European Public Policy 6:4, Special Issue 1999, pp. 669-681, here p. 670. 634 See in particular RISSE Thomas/WIENER Antje: ‘Something Rotten’ and the Social Construction of Social Constructivism. A Comment on Comments. In: Journal of European Public Policy, No. 5/1999, pp. 775-782. 635 JACHTENFUCHS Markus: Deepening and Widening Integration Theory. In: Journal of European Public Policy, No. 9/2002, pp. 650-657, here p. 653. 636 See MORAVCSIK Andrew: ‘Is Something Rotten in the State of Denmark?’ Constructivism and European Integration. In: Journal of European Public Policy 6:4, Special Issue 1999, pp. 669-681, here p. 669. 180 Constructivism can be characterized ex negativo, that is, by reference to what it is not.637 This predication, uttered by a group of scholars that overtly refer to themselves as “constructivists”, could easily be developed into Constructivism can be characterized by reference to what it does not want to be. That is, to make it short: rationalist. Arguments about “what Constructivism can do”, and in turn, what Rationalism “is not able to explain” (or even see), constituted an important element in what could be called the first attempts of Constructivism to justify its own existence. This discursive act of “othering” Rationalism appeared to have even an identity forming effect for the constructivist community emerging in the course of the 1990s. Christiansen et al. offered a sequence of flaming affirmations that reflect this argumentative attitude. While rationalists often dismiss ‘merely symbolic’ discourse, the theory of communicative action [Note: Constructivism] enables analysis of these otherwise forgotten dimensions of policy-making. […] Neglecting the constructive force of the process itself, i.e. pushing intersubjective phenomena, and social context aside, lays the ground for missing out on a crucial part of the process. If the process is to be explained, it cannot be done with a research context that is closed towards interpretative tools.638 While this will to distance themselves from their traditional theoretical predecessors may be largely understandable, confusingly, the very same constructivists have claimed only a few instants earlier that Constructivism plays “the role of a mediator” between classic Rationalism and more reflectivist perspectives. They claim to be located in the “middle ground” between the two major opposing paradigms in IRT to then again present themselves as a, or actually the single best, alternative to Rationalism, and thus, to any theoretical model classic integration theory has put forth.639 The rationalist position can easily be subsumed within a constructivist perspective which, however, can offer much more, since it is based on a deeper and broader ontology.640 Constructivist monologues about the ontological superiority of this very metatheoretical approach have been very prominent tools in the course of the respective theoretical debate. Constructivists generally lay ambitious claims to the explanatory power of their own analytical model. Constructivism is a social theory that is ‘applicable’ across disciplines which therefore helps us to transcend recurring inter-disciplinary squabbles, be it IR vs. comparative politics or IR vs. European studies.641 Furthermore, social constructivism has the potential to counter tendencies towards excessive specialization in studies of European integration, tendencies to know more and more about less and less.642 637 CHRISTIANSEN Thomas/JØRGENSEN Knud Erik/WIENER Antje: The Social Construction of Europe. In: Journal of European Public Policy 6:4, Special Issue 1999, pp. 528-544, here p. 531. 638 CHRISTIANSEN Thomas/JØRGENSEN Knud Erik/WIENER Antje: The Social Construction of Europe. In: Journal of European Public Policy 6:4, Special Issue 1999, pp. 528-544, here p. 541. 639 See ibd., p. 532. 640 See ibd., here p. 533 and 536. 641 Ibd., here p. 531. 181 One of the major contributions of constructivist approaches is to include the impact of norms and ideas on the construction of identities and behaviour.643 Constructivists openly challenge the general explanatory power and analytical capacity of both traditional IRT and Comparative Theories. It is the constructivist project of critically examining transformatory processes of integration rather than the rationalist debate between intergovernmentalists (implicitly assuming that there is no fundamental change) and comparativists (implicitly assuming that fundamental change has already occurred), which will be moving the study of European integration forward.644 However, to what extent does Social Constructivism really live up to its own stated intents? In order to discuss this question in view of a more specific case in point we can come back to the exemplary social constructivist analysis produced by Jukarainen, which was aimed to “explain the discursive spatial construction of Northernness”.645 Jukarainen mainly focused on the identification of dominant discursive patterns, which she then perceives to be clustering in the form of “nodal points” or “condensations of dominance”.646 These dominant discursive motives that appear to be constituting the spatial image of “Northernness” are then compared to what “old Nordicity” is perceived to entail. “Old Norden” is defined as a “system of interstate cooperation between the Nordic States within the Nordic Council”, whereas “contemporary South-eastern Euro- North” is said to involve “cooperation, conflict and competition within and beyond (!) [original emphasis] states, regions, cities, and localities.647“ The social constructivist eye is largely focused on the process of change, on how discursive patterns are shifted and what new images are being employed in order to construct equally “new” spatial entities. Since the specific role of the actor and the influence of strategic interests is perceived “impossible to trace”, Jukarainen – in a very typical social constructivist manner – tries to find the reasons for change in another context. Rationalist factors like the (potentially short-term) impact of conscious and strategic nation state choices are systematically excluded from the explanation. Change is rather perceived to occur on procedural grounds, meaning a decent and long-stretched change with diffuse and indefinite origins. Instead of trying to trace the source of policy innovation in contemporary political practice (in this case, post Cold War practice), Jukarainen eventually seeks to blur the alleged change that built the basis and point of departure for her analysis. Comparing the two notions [note: the ‘old North’ and the ‘contemporary Northernness’] there has been a complete change. We could say that not only the ‘video’ on play now 642 CHRISTIANSEN Thomas/JØRGENSEN Knud Erik/WIENER Antje: The Social Construction of Europe. In: Journal of European Public Policy 6:4, Special Issue 1999, pp. 528-544, here p. 531. 643 Ibd., here p. 532. 644 Ibd., here p. 537. 645 See JUKARAINEN Pirjo: Norden is Dead. Long Live the Eastwards Faced Euro-North. Geopolitical Re-making of Norden in a Nordic Journal. In: Cooperation and Conflict, No. 12/1999, pp. 355-382, here p. 359. And chapter “The Discursive Construction of Regions”, p. 170-. 646 See ibd., here p. 361. Referring to DIEZ Thomas: Die EU lesen. Diskursive Knotenpunkte in der britischen Europadebatte. Mannheim 1997. 647 JUKARAINEN Pirjo: Norden is Dead. Long Live the Eastwards Faced Euro-North. Geopolitical Remaking of Norden in a Nordic Journal. In: Cooperation and Conflict, No. 12/1999, pp. 355-382, here p. 376. 182 consists of new kinds of ‘still pictures’ (meaning spatial imaginations), but more radically perhaps it even seemed to be in need of a completely new name. [...] It is fair to suggest, however, that the diversification did not occur over a short period of time. Even during the former period characterized as ‘Nordic times’ there was much more going on than merely interstate cooperation. For instance, transnationally (note: not internationally) oriented firms had their cooperative links and networks transcending state boundaries long before the ‘end’ of the ideological juxtaposition.648 With this argument and one of her major conclusions, Jukarainen not only relativises the significance of the change she has been scrutinising, she also dilutes her own analytical findings by drawing fairly vague and fuzzy conclusions. While the analysis of political and political scientist discourse as it has occurred in the context of a Norden-based journal has brought significant and highly remarkable discoveries about the argumentative tools and spatial images that were employed in this context, the concluding interpretation clearly lacked distinct explanatory factors or independent variables that could have structured the production of significant analytical outcomes. While arguably, it might not be appropriate to take one single social constructivist study in order to criticise the underlying theoretical model that (obviously) has wider conceptual implications, there are a few tendencies in Jukarainen’s chain of argumentation that could be identified as the major weaknesses that Social Constructivism can be taunted for. This is where I join in the criticism by Moravcsik who identified “a characteristic unwillingness” in constructivists “to place their claims at any real risk of empirical disconfirmation.”649 Generally, the methodological foundation of Constructivism, if ever it goes beyond mere creative and eloquent reasoning about discursively subjected ‘raw material’, appears rather banal. It could be argued that most findings that constructivist studies lead to, have not been detected because of the alleged thinking pattern constructivism offers, but because the respective researcher succeeded in tracking motives and political objectives in every day discourse that give information about the background or strategic intention of a certain phenomenon, event or behaviour. Some of these analysts would probably also be good historians, since they show a lot of stamina when it comes to the study of fragments and splinters in current political affairs. One positive example in this respect is Leena-Kaarina Williams, whose findings offer a significant insight into the early history of Baltic Sea Regionalism.650 Williams has simply taken the effort of searching the local archives in the German Bundesland of Schleswig-Holstein, looking for empirical evidence to support her assumption about the virtual constructedness of the “Baltic Sea” notion. The constructivist framework made her doing just that: considering as many details as possible by scanning the material that contributed, in Neumann’s words, to “speaking and writing the region into existence.”651 648 Ibd., here p. 376. 649 MORAVCSIK Andrew: ‘Is Something Rotten in the State of Denmark?’ Constructivism and European Integration. In: Journal of European Public Policy 6:4, Special Issue 1999, pp. 669-681, here p. 670. 650 WILLIAMS Leena-Kaarina: Post-modern and intergovernmental paradigms of Baltic Sea cooperation between 1988 and 1992. The Genesis of the Council of the Baltic Sea States (CBSS) as a historical case study. In: NORDEUROPA Forum 1/2005, pp. 3-20. 651 NEUMANN Iver B.: A Region-Building Approach to Northern Europe. In: Review of International Studies, No. 20/1994, pp. 53-74, here p. 59. 183 However, Social Constructivism seems not to be about more than the simple claim that “identity matters” or, to add the methodological key message, “discourse matters”. The core argumentative line of Constructivism barely indicates a working strategy, but does not solve or explain any social problem or phenomenon. While Constructivism set out to criticise Neo-Realism and Neo-Functionalism for having neglected half of the truth, Constructivism in turn has to be blamed for its absolute focus on the discursive process. Constructivist studies on the BSR happen to be fruitfully descriptive. However, many of them never reach the point of conclusory reasoning about independent variables. Taking an abstract example: Region-builder A constructed regional vision X. He availed himself of argument Y and Z, perverting cliché XX in order to idealise and blandish the “real” objectives underlying the promoted vision X. Nice story plot, but what does this tell us about the priorities, interests and objectives of A? Discourse analysis, as a working method often suggested by constructivists, could probably lead us to the answer. But then, the merit goes to the patient observer or researcherm, and cannot be ascribed to the theoretical framework of analysis. If Constructivism suggests to identify how regions are “written and spoken” into existence, what is really innovative about this idea? That de Gaulle had very particular views on European integration or on French national security is not an exciting new constructivist discovery. Nor is it very surprising that there have been many plans for the institutional shape of the EU, some which became politically relevant whereas others did not.652 The thorough analysis of both written and “other” sources (in the widest sense of the term) is an established part of every day work in history science; and so it is the case for other disciplines such as sociology or psychology. The social constructivist approach to regional integration is really not much more than some kind of lip-service paid to an approach that is now well developed in other fields such as sociology, psychology and linguistics.653 Maybe this sort of criticism can be decisively disarmed by simply pointing at the fact that Constructivism in European Studies and more generally, in IR analysis, is not employed to offer an integral theoretical framework for a specific social or political phenomenon. As Tassinari defined the “constructivist game”, its rules are not as formally given as in most grand theories such as in the realist or functionalist strain; they rather depend “on how social reality displays itself”, and thus, they are constitutes in the very process of analytical operation or argumentative ‘doing’. “There is not an actual theory and probably not even one single constructivist methodology.”654 Constructivism could rather be classified as a “theory of knowledge” or epistemology. However, this is, once again, what Constructivism does not want to be. 652 JACHTENFUCHS Markus: Deepening and Widening Integration Theory. In: Journal of European Public Policy, No. 9/2002, pp. 650-657, here p. 653. 653 VAN LANGENHOVE Luk: Theorising Regionhood. UNU/CRIS e-Working Papers, W-2003/1. Bruges 2003, p. 6. 654 See TASSINARI Fabrizio: Mare Europaeum. Baltic Sea Region Security and Cooperation from post-Wall to post-Enlargement Europe. Copenhagen 2004, p. 82. 184 Constructivism focuses on social ontologies including such diverse phenomena as, for example. intersubjective meanings, norms, rules, institutions, routinized practices, discourse, constitutive and/or deliberative processes, symbolic politics, imagined and/or epistemic communities, communicative action, collective identity formation, and cultures of national security. [...] By emphasising that social ontologies constitute a key dimension of Constructivism, we distance ourselves from a view that reduces constructivism to primarily an issue of epistemology.655 Another major deceit underlying constructivist thinking is that normative factors like identity or ideology can be completely measurable – or at least – apparent to the eye of the observant. The normative claim is directly linked with the positivist expectation that the “intersubjective meaning” is directly apparent to the external observer.656 In many cases, constructivist approaches seem to ignore what could be called the ‘trap of relativism’ since – in the strict sense – also the analyst or observer is subject to his or her own mental constructs, and when trying to analyse, and thereby, to (close to psychologically) interpret political or social language and discursive interaction of others, the same effect of habitualization will take place, and that might distort the alleged “intersubjective meaning” as it is postulated by Constructivism itself. Some constructivists actually do not directly oppose this criticism. They rather consciously emphasise that the theoretical foundations of constructivism themselves are subject to “continuous processes of social construction within the community.”657 In many cases, the academic analyst is caught in his own discursively constructed world, interpreting discourses to gain knowledge or probably to achieve certain strategic goals within the scientific community. Lovering reflected this critical assumption in respect to the New Regionalism Approach (NRA) – a theoretical model for the explanation of regionalism that largely draws upon social constructivist foundations.658 [The NRA must be seen as] an ideologically-loaded discourse which is proving to be extremely useful for existing organizations and a new regionally constituted service class it is fabulously successful. [...] The rise of the New Regionalism offers a striking example of an intimate connection between the construction of knowledge and the policy agendas of powerful institutions. The New Regionalism [...] has gained influence not because of its scientific content but because it has attractive ideological resonances for a range of corporate, political, cultural and academic actors.659 As the following example taken from one of the major “bordering” and “rebordering” œuvres shows, these bold “Constructivist games” often lead to rather quaint findings, where the analyst himself seems to be twisted by normative construction, or was simply, 655 CHRISTIANSEN Thomas/JØRGENSEN Knud Erik/WIENER Antje: The Social Construction of Europe. In: Journal of European Public Policy 6:4, Special Issue 1999, pp. 528-544, here p. 530. 656 Ibd., here p. 534. 657 See RISSE Thomas/WIENER Antje: ‘Something Rotten” and the Social Construction of Social Constructivism. A Comment on Comments. In: Journal of European Public Policy, No. 5/1999, pp. 775-782, here p. 779. 658 See chapter “The Discursive Construction of Regions”, p. 170-. 659 LOVERING John: Theory led by Policy? The Inadequacies of the “New Regionalism” in economic geography illustrated from the Case of Wales. Paper presented at the Economic Geography Research Group Seminar ‘Institutions and Governance’. Department of Geography, London, 3 July 1998, p. 21. 185 as Moravcsik put it, “waxing desperate with imagination”:660 The following citation taken from Möller gives an example of this tendency in social constructivist analyses: In the early 1990s, [...] many policy-makers [...] invoked a common historical heritage by referring to, among other things, the Hansa League. This may have been a useful starting point for region building, but from a long term perspective it has failed [...] because the historical identity markers [...] have been too weak, being too remote from and too irrelevant to people’s every day lives to provide sufficient amalgam to bind the Northern people together. However, rather than drawing the pessimistic conclusion that due to a lack of a collective memory the region building process in Europe’s North is ultimately doomed to failure, it is suggested here that we should treat as an asset what at first sight seems to be a liability. That is to say deconstructing the ostensibly unifying stories and acknowledging the existence of diverse and ambivalent collective memories may result in a Northern subjectivity that is based on an appreciation of, rather than a reduction in, difference.661 At a later stage, Möller even adopts a heavily sermonal style postulating that an increase in pluralistic memory games is required in order for Northern subjectivity to grow. This means, first of all, an increase in the awareness of the deficiencies in the regionbuilding process with respect to the emergence of a mnemonic region, i.e. one that does not unite its inhabitants on the basis of common memories, but rather one that acknowledges that different groups of people have different sets of memories that are equally valuable.662 While these honest concerns about the righteousness of the region-building process are more than justified, given the obvious disparity between rhetoric enthusiasm and factual political or “mental” progression, they also appear misplaced to the extent that the whole “process” (as that is what Möller claims to be analysing) is taken far too seriously and is being subjected to moral justifications. This is all not to say that constructivist informed contributions to the Baltic Sea Regionalism debate have not been important or significant. Constructivism should be seen as an additional perspective, a part of a mosaic of factors, and most importantly, a methodological guideline or strategy, but it is not a theory of its own. My main criticism of the constructivist approach is based on an argument suggested in the field of Social Geography: A region has always a dual character. On the one hand, a region might well be a cognitive construct produced in the course of discourse and thus, determined by inhabitants, observers, politicians, researchers and not least, by region-builders. However, a region is also ‘real’ in terms of “neutral and measurable.”663 Here the argument of the “light” version of Social Constructivism might come in with the riposte that the social constructivist perspective does not categorically deny the existence of material reality. 660 See MORAVCSIK Andrew: ‘Is Something Rotten in the State of Denmark?’ Constructivism and European Integration. In: Journal of European Public Policy 6:4, Special Issue 1999, pp. 669-681, here p. 679. 661 MÖLLER Frank: Rafting Nilas. Subjectivity, Memory and the Discursive Patterns of the North. In: BROWNING Christopher S. (ed.): Remaking Europe in the Margins. Northern Europe after the Enlargements. Aldershot 2005, pp. 31-47, here p. 32. 662 Ibd., here p. 43-44. 663 See BLOTEVOGEL Hans Heinrich: Auf dem Weg zu einer Theorie der Regionalität. In: BRUNN Gerhard (ed.): Region und Regionsbildung in Europa. Baden-Baden 1996, pp. 44-68, here pp. 45-47. 186 [Sociological] Constructivism does not deny the existence of a phenomenal world, external to thought. This is the world of brute (mainly natural) facts. It does oppose, and this is something different, that phenomena can constitute themselves as objects of knowledge independently of discursive practices. It does not challenge the possible thoughtindependent existence of (in particular natural) phenomena, but it challenges their languageindependent observation.664 This last point is, in turn, what I do openly oppose. Taking a “brute fact” out of the phenomenal world in Northern Europe, for example remoteness: as a factor, it can be measured on the basis of specific structural criteria that help to calculate the accessibility of a region, and thus, to come to know about any specific infrastructural or technical needs the respective region might have.665 This again, might determine the development of respective policies without being subject to social construction in any sense. Political solutions that might be developed in response to the factual challenge are likely to be constructed in discursive terms. However, the significance and politicising effect of the mere discursively independent “phenomenal substance” remains. The very example of the Hanseatic League could be employed in order to support this critical stance. Well before the League was formally established, the seaports alongside the Baltic Sea and the North Sea had already built up an important trading route that gradually tightened the link between them.666 I do not want to join in the traditional debate about the similarity of the different sorts of “New Regionalism” and its alleged historical precursor. Taking the League instead as a mere instance of regionalism itself and looking at the course of its development and the way it was established over the years, the social constructivist perspective becomes strongly challenged. At those times, a potential social construction of a spatial concept as wide-ranging as the one underlying the Hanseatic League was fairly limited in terms of communication and transfer of knowledge. Neither there existed technical possibilities for the ample promotion of the alleged region-building project, nor could the academic community be perceived as closely networked across land and state borders. Still, the League happened to establish a strong legacy. What laid the ground for its “existence” in both phenomenological and ideological terms could not be, as claimed by social constructivists, its continuous social construction by region constructors. The Hanseatic spatial concept could not be “spoken or written into existence.” The cooperative structures of the League rather resulted from concrete economic and political interests. In contemporary political discourse, where there are plenty of means to “communicate a region into existence”, the Hansa image (among many others) has been employed, and to a great extent also deliberately distorted in order to serve specific region-building arguments. However, the constitutive effect of these processes of construction should not be overestimated. While politically, the (partly) strategic employment of discursive tools is highly significant, it should certainly not lead us to the assumption that the region (or spatial concept) could not exist independently from these discursive 664 GUZZINI Stefano: A Reconstruction of Constructivism in International Relations. In: European Journal of International Relations, No. 2/2000, pp. 147-182, here p. 159. 665 See for example SPIEKERMANN Klaus/AALBU Hallgeir: Nordic Peripherality in Europe. Nordregion Working Paper, Nr. 2/2004. Stockholm 2004. 666 See POSTEL Rainer: The Hanseatic League and its Decline. Paper presented at the Central Connecticut State University, New Britain. 20 November 1996. 187 processes. Discursive constructs, whether they involve politico-strategic intents or not, are not to be equated with the structural “substance” that brings the region (or another spatial entity) into existence. The constructs purported in political discourse are part of what the region “is substantially about” but they do certainly not determine its existence. The essence of these considerations could be depicted by using the renowned Iceberg- Model that Johan Galtung introduced in the context of conflict analysis.667 Galtung’s explanation of the constitution of conflict holds that it is comparable to the structural characteristics of an iceberg. The bottom nine tenths are hidden from view, while only the tip of the iceberg juts out above the waterline. While the context where this analogy has been originally employed is completely different, it still appears to offer a good model to illustrate the criticism of the social constructivist perspective. Political discourse as well as every single construct that is being employed, perverted or manipulated in the course of public and political debate only constitutes the ‘tip of the iceberg’, leaving the underlying interests and power-related motives unexplored. This general critique draws again on Moravcsik’s assessment about the “constructivist unwillingness” to place analytical claims “at any real risk of empirical disconfirmation.”668 Social constructivist analyses have certainly opened up a wealth of new insights into the study of regionalist phenomena. Indeed, the considerations about the history tool and other aspects occurring in the public discourse on Baltic Sea Regionalism added a strong constructivist element to my study as well.669 However, the intention behind this was more to support the description of the phenomenon. The reasoning about the employment of various different argumentative tools was rather meant to serve the purpose of introducing the matter of regionalism than explaining it. 667 GALTUNG Johan: Gewalt, Frieden und Friedensforschung. In: SENGHAAS Dieter (ed.): Kritische Friedensforschung. Frankfurt 1972, pp. 55-104. Figure taken from Institut f?r Angewandte Kreativität (IAK), website [23 February 2008. 668 MORAVCSIK Andrew: ‘Is Something Rotten in the State of Denmark?’ Constructivism and European Integration. In: Journal of European Public Policy 6:4, Special Issue 1999, pp. 669-681, here p. 670. 669 See chapter “Visions and Constructed Realities – the History Tool”, p. 51-, and chapter “The Argument of Challenges – United in Diversity”, p. 51-. positions interests needs Figure 7: Social Constructivism and the Analytical ‘Tip of the Iceberg’ 188 This technical approach seeks to reflect the analytical weaknesses of constructivist explanation as laid out in this chapter. While the descriptive output of constructivist applications is rather dense, there is a clear lack in explanatory power. Constructivist perspectives often refrain from a systematic interpretation of the social interactions observed. Even though the main constructivist working method, content analysis, offers a good instrument for the identification of strategic motives and interests underlying social and political action, the explanatory output of most empirical studies stemming from the constructivist camp largely remains low. Moreover, despite their focus on the political process (most importantly, the discursive process preparing and framing political decision-making and acting) social constructivists are often reluctant to refer to the issue of finality. The potential outcome of a sequence of discursive action gets less analytical attention than the process itself. The rigid concentration of analysis on various aspects of discursive exchanges often appears to distort the ratio between the political arena where actions are being promoted and “constructed discursively” and the acts of factual cooperation, the establishment of material structures that transcend the realm of affirmative declarations and political arguing. What appears to be one of the most persistent misbelieves of Social Constructivism is that elitist discourse is expected to have – at least – a long-term impact on the broader political public and thus, an unconditional bearing on the formation of ideology and identity. This perspective does not only neglect the formative effect of individual perceptions about (material) political developments, it also denies (or at least underestimates) the direct impact of political decisions and policies on norms and beliefs. II. Intermediate Synthesis: Crosslinking Typologies and Theories This chapter seeks to draw reference lines from the constructivist Region-Building Approach (RBA) by Neumann over the typologies developed by e.g. Hettne (the Old/New dichotomy) to the array of theories of European integration discussed in the first part of this section by depicting the linkages (or “crosslinks”) between them in form of a synoptical overview. It is arranged according to the guiding principles that appear to be underlying each counterpart within a certain dichotomy. Equally, various specific characteristics of a type (e.g. Hard Regionalism) are seen to be reflected within a certain theoretical strain in EIT (e.g. Liberal Intergovernmentalism). The scheme starts out from the Old/New pair, since its conceptual implications are perceived to be most significant for this kind of synopsis, classifying them as follows: – “old” in terms of tendencially narrow or “special with regard to objectives” and – “new” in the sense of a “more comprehensive multidimensional process”670 670 HETTNE Björn: The New Regionalism: Implications for Development and Peace. In: HETTNE Björn/INOTAI András: The New Regionalism. Implications for Global Development and International Security. Helsinki 1994, pp. 1-49, here p. 1-2.

Chapter Preview



Seit 1989 ist es im Ostseeraum zu einer explosionsartigen Entstehung einer Vielzahl von regionalen Initiativen und Zusammenschlüssen gekommen. Der Ostseeraum weist bis heute eine europaweit einzigartig hohe Konzentration an kooperativen regionalen Strukturen auf. Diese bilden gemeinsam ein enges Netzwerk von Vereinigungen, die unter dem Überbegriff der "Ostseezusammenarbeit’ interagieren.

Diese Studie analysiert die Hintergründe dieses regionalen Phänomens oder so genannten „Ostsee-Rätsels“ auf Basis eines Vergleichs zwischen den Regionalpolitiken zweier staatlicher Schlüsselakteure, Schweden und Finnland, wobei der europäische Integrationsprozess als übergeordneter Bezugsrahmen für die Untersuchung dient.