One Definition a Day: Integration
"Integration is both a process and an end state. The aim of the end state sought when actors integrate is a political community. The process or processes include athe means or instruments whereby that political community is achieved. There is an important proviso which must be entered immediately.
The process of integration should be voluntary and concensual. Integration which proceeds by force and coercion is imperialism.
Although historically empire-building has some of the characteristics currently attributed to integration, modern scholarship has been insistent that the process of integration should be regarded as non-coercive.
Taking a historical perspective, the most significant attempts at building political communities in the past have been directed towards the creation of nation-states.
Nationalists sentiments have often preferred to describe this as unification rather than integration. Current scholarship, with its emphasis between state actors, can present a truncated view of the process if due regard is not paid to the nation-building purposes of earlier eras.
An integrated political community must possess certain structural characteristics. Thus typically among states integration will produce a collective configuration of decision-making that will be closer to supranational ideal type rather than the international. For instance, collective decisions might be taken by a majority of the membership and the strict unanimy principle would be abandoned.
The need for policy integration will be particularly important if the nascent community is responsible for the allocation of goods and services between the consituent units.
This will certainly be the case in those instances where political community building is predicted upon economic integration via customes unions and common markets.
This aspect of community building has particularly exercised the interest and attention of students of integration in the post-1945 period.
Source : Dictionary of International Relations, Penguin (1998) by Authors Graham Evans and Jeffrey Newnham
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