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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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Borders and cross-border cooperation in Europe from a sociological perspective (Philippe Hamman)

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Borders and cross-border cooperation in Europe from a sociological perspective

Philippe HAMMAN

1.  Introduction: Addressing borders and cross-border cooperation (CBC) in sociology

In sociology, the concept of border relates to several interconnected dimensions:

‒ Borders are analysed as a dialectic between circulations and boundaries, regarding concrete human, social, economic, political, cultural and/or ecological issues (Hamman, 2006a; Rumford, 2014); as well as for the constitution and the dissemination of theoretical, institutional, critical and/or practical forms of knowledge (Choné, Hajek, Hamman, 2017).

‒ Borders are sites of conflicts, socio-economic inequalities as well as hybridization processes, i.e. social transactions (Hamman, 2005, 2013a): this determines their social thickness, making them more than just a dividing line between two territories or states on a map. As Malcolm Anderson (1996) explained, borders are political and social institutions – in the sense that they determine a legal regime, rights, duties and modes of territorial regulation vis-à-vis a given population. Max Weber (1959 [1919]) named this the state’s “sovereignty”, holding a “monopoly on the legitimate use of physical force”. They are also processes that play a large part in shaping the “imagined political communities” formed by nations (Anderson, 1991) and more largely, relationships to oneself and to others, to the individual and the group. Lastly, “border” is a discursive term that may prompt various political, popular and academic perceptions which overlap but never coincide; these divergences are precisely part of the border experience (Anderson, 1996; Hamman,...

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