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Carmen Gebhard, Reconciling Application Patterns: Trial Application to the Baltic Sea Case in:

Carmen Gebhard

Unravelling the Baltic Sea Conundrum, page 216 - 218

Regionalism and European Integration Revisited

1. Edition 2008, ISBN print: 978-3-8329-4084-3, ISBN online: 978-3-8452-1239-5 https://doi.org/10.5771/9783845212395

Series: Nomos Universitätsschriften - Politik, vol. 164

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216 II. Reconciling Application Patterns: Trial Application to the Baltic Sea Case One of the major specificities of classic system theory is its claim to offer models with global applicability. Certain procedural flows are claimed to be common to all levels of social action. This universalist claim opens the scene to trial applications, such as the one to a complexly networked region like the BSR. The employment of the Parsonian AGIL scheme for the explanation of Baltic Sea social and political reality certainly imposes a series of methodological and operational problems. Chosing a very direct way of application one could discuss the various forms of how AGIL controlled and structured systems and subsystems are distributed in and across the region, and how they relate to their broader systemic framework. Concerning abstraction, this kind of theorisation has clearly reached the level where the identification of examples from the ‘real’ world becomes difficult. One could just take the complex of Baltic Sea Regionalism, pick out certain actors (“roles”) or processes and try to identify in each and every case of ‘what this very element is an instance.’ Adjacent internationalism or regionalist activism, as identified earlier, is a formative element in Swedish foreign policy towards its immediate neighbourhood. It could be interpreted, for example, as part of a social interaction with the allegedly hostile surrounding and a reaction to the redoubtable supranationalist pressure coming from the European core. The functions maintaining the Swedish system of reluctance are performed by several parts of the social system and reproduced at the sub-system level (see figure below). social systems (not specified) A G I L A G I L ADAPTATION GOAL L ATTAINMENT INTEGRATION LATENCY Figure 19: Complex social systems, Parsons 217 superficial compliance with supranational acquis and expectations in the European scene no deep-going incorporation of acquis in order to maximise added value of outsider position selective engagement with second intention interaction with the outside world integrative attitude at regional level (selective) (is seen as asset from outside – strategic objectives remain undiscovered) reproduction of Swedish exceptionalism in national culture Figure 20: The AGIL pattern – the example of Sweden’s regionalist activism This trajectory of incorporating the specific regionalist attitude of ‘adjacent activism’ or ‘internationalism’ is effected by multiple social processes. Together they substantiate political routine and the internalisation of the respective strategic action model in all parts of society. As a result, the action strategy becomes deeply incorporated; the latent patterns are reinforced repeatedly by the resulting social routine. This means that both the ‘inside’ persistence (the ‘bubble” of Swedish self-transfiguration) and the one warranted from outside (Sweden is persistently seen as a model) are safely maintained over a long period of time. The durable disfunctionality of one of the functional entities would significantly unbalance the whole systemic process, while short-term irritations might even lead to a reinforced backlash provoking increased isolation, and thus, reinvigoration of exceptionalist attitudes and objectives. By identifying the functional elements for each of the respective sub-systems, this depiction could, in a next step, be linked to its wider framework, the European integration complex. 218 The high level of abstraction of these models might be both an asset and a weakness of comparative theorising. On the one hand, it opens the analytical perspective for new ways of structuring empirical events and phenomena and allows for a broad, universal and flexible application to (apparently) very different research objects; on the other hand, it also bears the risk of turning the analytical process into an auto-dynamic act of ‘thinking it to the end’, and thereby, of loosing track of the empirical relevance or even compliance and legitimacy. Parsons has been criticised for mingling theoretical ‘truth’ with empirical evidence in the course generating inferential conclusions, and for using both in an instrumentalist and in a selective way in order to achieve a consistent line of argumentation. A similar criticism could and should certainly be raised against the preceding trial application of his model. Hence, keeping the intrinsic shortfalls of ‘globalist’ models of explanation in mind, this ‘short ride into the field of Comparative Theory’ will not conclude with a set of rigid analytical claims but rather leave the floor to a concluding statement on the theoretical incorporation of Baltic Sea Regionalism and its connection to nation state regional policy. F. Conclusions on the Theoretical Incorporation of Baltic Sea Regionalism This chapter will seek to gather the insights that the foregoing discussion of various different theoretical camps has brought about. The issue raised at the very beginning of this study about the ‘(non)sense of theorisation’ shall build the overall point of reference for this conclusion of the theoretical section. The search for an appropriate theoretical foundation for the research problems addressed in this study has led us through three different strands in political theory. The first, and in respect to the topic of the study, the most obvious step in this process was to consult the bulk of (European) Integration superficial compliance integrative attitude second intent selective engagement normative reproduction of exceptionalism Sweden EU as either a group of member states or a supernational entity (EU) normative incorportation of Sweden’s role in the EU for example Figure 21: Swedish regionalist activism in relation to the EU framework

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Zusammenfassung

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.