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Transdisciplinary Discourses on Cross-Border Cooperation in Europe

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Edited By Joachim Beck

In the context of European integration, cross-border cooperation has become increasingly important. Following both the quantitative and qualitative expansion of this policy-field, it has repeatedly been the subject of scientific analysis in the past. However, as a result of the classical differentiation of the scientific system, it was mostly viewed from a monodisciplinary perspective. This publication aims at the foundation of a trans-disciplinary research approach in the field of European cross-border cooperation. It takes the multi-dimensional reality of practical territorial cooperation in Europe as a starting point and develops a transdisciplinary scientific approach. Based on a common analytic frame of reference, practical patterns of cross-border policy-making in different European border regions are analyzed from the integrated theoretical perspectives of various scientific disciplines: Political Science, Geography, Sociology, History, Law, Cultural Sciences and Socio-Linguistics, Economics and Administrative Science. The scientific conceptualizations are expanded by reports from practitioners coming from different institutional and functional levels of European cross-border policy-making.

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Cross-border cooperation in political science (Kristina Zumbusch / Roland Scherer)

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Cross-border cooperation in political science

Kristina ZUMBUSCH, Roland SCHERER

1.  Introduction: The relevance of cross-border cooperation in political science

In the world of today, the role of national borders is by far not diminishing. New borders are coming up; others are changing their geographies and their functions. Their influence on our daily life is vast. Sohn (2014, p. 594) mentions five different functions of borders, even if they often appear interwoven and contradictory: (i) the function of delimitation, (ii) the function of separation, (iii) the function of an interface, (iv) the function of differentiation and last (v) the function of affirmation. For a long time these functions have been the pure privilege of national states (ibid.). Today, following the relativisation of the role of the state, these border-functions are being contested and constantly by-passed or re-interpreted by a multitude of actors. Borders are changing their character, and have thereby induced a sixth function: the function as catalyst for cooperation. According to Nelles and Walther (2011), it seems less important whether borders follow one of these functions (as most borders have more functions) but to conceptualize those functions in terms of a set of rules, norms and procedures which regulate borders and control their effects on social, political and economic actors (e.g. Leresche, Saez, 2002; O’Dowd, 2002). Such understandings contribute to the vitality of cross-border regionalism (Scott, 1999): it states that the process of political regulation is taking new institutional forms,...

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