Europeanization and transnational processes
Modern Societies are more and more determined by processes crossing national borders, opening scopes beyond international relations between states and defining rules. Transnational networks and co-operations between enterprises, associations, social movements, civil society actors and entities; even right is set transnationally on a European level. Europeanization and transnationalization hence point to the reorganization of economy structures, cross-border socialization and patterns of entwinement and political-judicial regulation structures across national borders.
Social sciences must gain a better understanding of Europeanization and transnationalization processes in their complexity and consequences. Furthermore, they need to separate from the common idea of a society as a nationally restricted social space and focus on how collective decisions and legislation are made by social actors outside traditional national channels and how they are developed by collaborating states and transnationally linked groups and organizations. The description of transnational problems and the research on cross-border solution approaches by “transnational studies” represent a major methodological challenge. Sub-, supra and transnational areas of action and regulation structures that cannot be defined within the traditional categories of a “container room” any longer are added to the national socialization patterns. Relational terms of space are demanded in order to conceive in theory the dynamics of expansion and limitation as well as opening and closing. Cities, economic regions and the EU are examples for those spaces that are marked by the territorial compression of comprehensive, rather global networks.
Thereby, the social sciences are challenged by studying the development of new regulation structures beyond the national order with regard to labor, knowledge, education, private living forms, government, welfare, conflict regulation and identities. On the one hand, one can expect the gradual, normally path-dependent transformation of national socialization patterns and the erosion of former matters of course, background assumptions and definitions of situations, on the other hand the development of new transnational socialization patterns and governance structures can be expected.
“Europeanization of national societies” focuses on the comparative study of national socialization processes and the analysis of transnational, especially European socialization processes. From a primarily sociological point of view, this area aims at studying the change of social spaces. The different national concepts of orders of space, labor, education, knowledge as well as normative orders on an international level and the opening and expansion of national spaces in different fields (labor and innovation, knowledge, education and private living forms, urbanization, social inequalities and social identities, conflict regulation) are to be analyzed.
“Political processes in transnational spaces” focuses on the voltage ratio between national institutions and expanded socialization processes. From a political science point of view, this area aims at political processes within national political systems with regard to supra and subnational catalyzers of collectively binding decisions. In a transnational perspective, the opening and expansion of national socialization patterns and the coherent social changes caused by the transition from national, relatively closed spaces to cross-border, European and internationally regulated fields.
In this way, this column compresses the sociological and political science perspective to an integrated research approach based on the following key questions:
- Do formerly nationally structured institutions change by the compression of European and transnational regulation structures and the coherent political patterns of entwinement and dependences?
- Do formerly nationally structured institutions change by cross-border communication and exchange relations and by mutual learning processes?
- In how far does this go along with a de- and restructuring of national orders, uncertainties and conflicts?
- Does the relative meaning of different socialization levels change? Do cities and regions as places for spatially concentrated innovation processes and as relation points for collective identifications, integration processes and social policy become more important?
The empirical examination of European and transnational questions as well as the connection of quantitative and qualitative methods create references/relations to the Center for Transnational Studies, carried by the Universities of Bremen and Oldenburg, which will be extended by social science working groups.