Formal and Informal Regionalism

Book Title: 
The Ashgate Research Companion to Regionalisms
Publication Year: 
Publication Place: 

This chapter provides an overview of the concepts, theories, and debates on formal and informal regionalism, and identify directions in which it should be moving. The first section focuses on theories and concepts. It tries to briefly clarify why some theories are so heavily geared towards formal regionalism, while others are much more focused on the formal-informal nexus, as wel as informal regionalism per se. Related to this, the section attempts to bring some conceptual order to the many alternative meanings of 'formal' and 'informal' regionalism and the relationship between these two broad processes. The following two sections provide empirical illustrations from Asia and Africa concerning how the formal-informal nexus can be analysed. These two sections are relevant because they provide examples of how to go beyond hegemonic emphases on formal regionalism, and how non-European cases of regionalism are important for the further development of comparative regionalism over the formal-informal nexus. The chapter concludes by summarising the strenghts and weaknesses of studies in this area, and reflects on what future research needs to focus upon in order to illuminate further the formal-informal nexus.

Formal and informal regionalism