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The False Obsolescence of European Integration Theory in the Study of North American Integration

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The current scholarship on North American integration has largely failed to engage with European integration theories. This paper argues that this situation results from the existence and dominance of the assumption, in the current literature, that North American integration is an intergovernmental process. It follows from this notion that, confronted with turbulence, the governments of Mexico, Canada, and the United States have lingered in promoting integration, and the process has stalled. Hence, (European) regional integration theories are irrelevant to the study of the North American case. This article argues that this claim resembles those made in the 1970s in Europe, when Ernst Haas declared the theorization of (European) integration obsolescent. To address this claim, this paper proposes reintroducing regional integration theories into the study of North American integration. It argues that such a change would enable scholars to better understand and acknowledge the varying degrees of policy interdependence (and hence political integration) between these countries. It concludes that the use of these theories would enable scholars to reassess North American integration, and potentially reveal that this process might be more substantial than current studies claim.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: February 1, 2017

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  • The St Antony's International Review (STAIR) is the only peer-reviewed journal of international affairs at the University of Oxford. Set up by graduate students of St Antony's College in 2005, the Review has carved out a distinctive niche as a cross-disciplinary outlet for research on the most pressing contemporary global issues, providing a forum in which emerging scholars can publish their work alongside established academics and policymakers. Past contributors include Robert O. Keohane, James N. Rosenau, and Alfred Stepan.
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