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The dimensions of political integration Pentland, Charles Corrie

Abstract

The purpose of this essay is to develop a framework for the comparative study of the process of political integration among states in regional international systems. An empirical theory of political integration should provide explanations of the process in terms of: 1. the evidence that it has occurred; 2. the conditions favorable to its progress; and 3. the dynamics of change. That current theories generally lack such complete explanatory power is a consequence of: 1. the lack of a model which combines sufficient complexity with the necessary manageability; 2. the lack of extensive comparative study in areas other than Western Europe; and 3. the lack of consistency in the use of terms and concepts. In this essay, political integration is conceptualized as a multidimensional process, akin to national political development, whereby a regional or "partial" international system is transformed to resemble a single political system. In these terms, political integration is a problem both of peaceful international relations and of the optimum form of political organization. In the introductory chapter these problems are discussed and the definition of political integration is elaborated and related to theories of international relations and national political development. Most important, however, is the notion of political integration as a multidimensional process, occurring in: 1. the ways in which states interact in making decisions; 2. the performance of basic functional tasks; 3. patterns of communication; and 4. political attitudes, in the regional international system. The four main chapters of this essay discuss these dimensions in turn. The process of political integration occurs partly as change in the structures and processes through which decisions emerge from the interaction of states in the system. This, then, is the first dimension. The second is concerned with political integration as it involves changes in the performance of economic, military and social-cultural functions in the regional system. In the third dimension we are concerned with how changes in the flows of communication and in the structures and practices enhancing such flows, are related to the process of integration. Finally, the process of political integration is viewed as occurring in part as a change in the patterns of political attitudes in the regional system. The first three dimensions are all represented by major theoretical works on political integration; the presence of social-psychological assumptions in each of these, however, points to the additional need for studies of attitude change in the integrative process. A dimension, then, is primarily an analytical category. A full explanation of the process of political integration should consider the evidence of, the conditions for, and the dynamics of, integration in each of these dimensions. The essential argument of this essay, therefore, is that political integration cannot be conceived of as taking place, unless certain processes of change are occurring in the interactions among states, the performance of functions, the flows of communications, and the patterns of political attitudes, in the regional international system.

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