Since regionalism studies first appeared as a field of enquiry in scholarly research, in the ’70s, the story has gone far beyond. These studies stemmed from the purely economic-fashioned approach of the ‘first-wave’, to the IPE approach, which characterized the ‘second wave’ of regional studies. The main difference between these two strands of studies was the different weight the ‘second wave’ assigned to regionalism as a global dynamic, opposed to the first wave conception of a European localized policy.
This brought a substantial change in IR understanding of globalization, as well of the observable dynamic in the functioning of the international system. The ‘second wave’ better explained the dichotomy between regionalism and multilateralism in terms of reaction to globalization, enacted by single actors or group of actors in the framework of the existing international multilateral institutions (notably the WTO), which were built within the circumstances of a bipolar world order.
This paper tries to push the argument further ahead, building on the existing literature. The main assumption, here, is that regionalism, as a set of policies and economic measures, could be considered as an obvious output, as well as a consequence of the adoption of a strategic behavior by international actors in the context of a changing global world order. In order to understand and to cast properly the regional dynamic, it is necessary to stem from the traditional view of a world made of States, to approach a more nuanced view of a world made of actors.
Framed in this way, it is possible to think about the international system in terms of complexity, where effects are not linear but they rather emerge from a dialectical process that takes place within globalism and regionalism. If IR paradigms offer different results, depending on their respective theoretical explanation of International dynamics, it is worth going beyond the paradigmatic fragmentation, to explore the implications of a comprehensive approach based on