The Rise of Regions: Introduction to Regional Integration & Organisations


  • Joren Selleslaghs
  • Luk Van Langenhove


In this chapter it is argued that the rise in regionalism since the end of the Cold War does not constitute a new phenomenon. In fact, regionalist movements can at least be traced back to the nineteenth century, and we are currently experiencing its fifth wave. However, what is certainly distinct about regionalism in the twenty-first century is the extent to which it draws on existing forms and the importance it has in structuring the global politico-economic order. Therefore, as shown in this chapter, today’s world (map) is characterized by a complex landscape of hundreds of regional groupings which are all connected in one way or the other. This chapter also conceptualizes overlapping and cognate terms for conceptual clarity, such as regionalism, regional cooperation, regional integration and regional sub-systems. Finally, the chapter lists various conceptual and empirical challenges related to the study of regionalism and regional integration efforts around the world.