The Advanced Placement Human Geography: Supranationalism


  1. What does Supranational mean?
  2. What are the shared ideological perspectives which connect the countries?
  3. What marked the shift toward a Supranational Approach?
  4. How do countries benefit from being the members of supranational organisations and what do they agree to cede?


While watching, pay attention to the following words and expressions in context. Use them in your answers to the questions below and discussion.

  • multiple countries
  • achieve benefit
  • give up a little sovereignty
  • accept regulations
  • general pattern
  • encompass
  • pivot and rotate toward
  • create and form alliances


  • What is the best example of a supranational entity in your view?
  • What can ensure the relationship between countries to be cooperative and mutually beneficial?

Regional Scenarios


  • read the passage
  • focus on key terms
  • summarize the information
  • elaborate on:

— Functionalism in sociology

— Neo-Functionalism 

— Dependency theory

— Institutionalism  

— International Federalism 

— Intergovernmentalism

— Supra-Nationalism 


interconnectbe interwoven or linked closely together
alterto make different, modify
accommodateto adapt, adjust
non state actorsorganisations and/or individuals not directed or funded by any government
sovereigntythe right to have absolute and unlimited power, either legal or political, within the territory of a state
policy-makingthe activity of deciding on new policies, especially by a government or political party
governancethe act of exercising authority
interdependencea reciprocal relation between interdependent entities 
participationthe act of becoming involved in the activities of a group
subsidiaritythe principle of devolving decisions to the lowest practical level


Functionalism In Sociology
Functionalism is a system used by cultures which concentrates on and emphasizes the functional interactions of cultures and societies. The main idea is that each culture or society can be viewed as a system that consists of similar elements that function either separately or together, if one of these elements was altered or removed, then this would affect the other elements and the system as a whole.
Functionalism says that:
• All elements within a society interconnect and work together
• If one dynamic is changed, it will alter the whole of society
• Society will change to accommodate this change
• Everything has a specific function in society
• Society will always function in harmony, as it will accommodate change, by
changing itself.
Problems with Functionalism
• Not all elements within a society interconnect
• Because it argues that society itself changes to accommodate new dynamics, it fails to provide an explanation for wars and conflicts that may arise in particular societies
• It disregards the immediate causes and motivations which are necessary in order to give rise to a phenomenon

As an Integration Theory
Functionalism is a theory of international relations that arose principally from the experience of the Second World War and a strong concern about the obsolescence of the State as a form of social organization. Rather than the self interest of nation states that realist see as a motivating factor, functionalists focus on common interests and needs shared by states but also by non state actors in a process of global integration triggered by the erosion of state sovereignty and the increasing weight of knowledge and hence of scientists and experts in the process of policy-making.
In the functionalism theory, international integration the collective governance and interdependence between states develops its own internal dynamic as states integrate in limited functional, technical, and/or economic areas.
International agencies would meet human needs. The benefits rendered by the functional agencies would attract the loyalty of the populations and stimulate their participation and expand the area of integration.
Principal Figures Related to Functionalism:
Emile Durkheim
Robert Merton


Neofunctionalism is a theory of International Integration, building on the work of David Mitrany approach to state integration, which aimed at integrating individual sectors in hopes of achieving spill-over effects to further the process of integration.
Unlike previous theories of integration, neofunctionalism is non normative and tries to describe and explain the process of regional integration based on empirical data. Integration was regarded as an inevitable process, rather than a desirable state of affairs that could be introduced by the political elites of the involved states’ societies.
Neofunctionalism assumes a decline in importance of nationalism; it sees the political and interest groups within states to be pursuing a welfare state objective which can be best satisfied by integration.
Principal Figures Related to Neo-Functionalism
Jeffrey Alexander
David Mitrany
Jean Monnet


“Dependency Theory is an historical condition which shapes a certain structure of the world economy such that it favors some countries to the detriment of others and limits the development possibilities of the subordinate economies a situation in which the economy of a certain group of countries is conditioned by the development and expansion of another economy, to which their own is subjected.” Raul Prebisch
Dependency theory states that the poverty of the countries in the periphery is not because they are not integrated into the world system, or not ‘fully’ integrated as is often argued by free market economists, but because of how they are integrated into the system.
▪ Poor nations provide natural resources, cheap labor, a destination for obsolete technology, and markets to the wealthy nations, without which the latter could not have the standard of living they enjoy.
▪ First World nations actively perpetuate a state of dependency through various policies and initiatives. This state of dependency is multifaceted, involving economics, media control, politics and all aspects of development.
▪ Any attempt by the dependent nations to resist the influences of dependency will result in economic sanctions or military invasion and control.
Proponents of dependency theory claim that the theory of comparative advantage breaks down when capital including both physical capital like machines and financial capital is highly mobile, as it is under the conditions of globalization. For this reason, it is claimed that dependency theory can offer new insights into a world of highly mobile multinational corporations.
It explains the economic integration process as a forced interdependency among rich and poor states.
Principal Figures Related Dependency Theory
Raul Presbisch
Immanuel Wallerstein ( Marxist Approach World System)


Institutions are rules that determine the decision-making process. In the
international arena, institution has been used interchangeably with ‘regime’, explicit or implicit «principles, norms, rules, and decision-making procedures around which actor’s expectations converge in a given issue-area.
Rational institutionalists also regard institutions as themselves being rationally chosen by actors who view the rules as facilitating the pursuit of their goals.
Institutionalism claims that the international integration is an institutionalized process in which states incorporate multinational institutions in their decisions and create common rules that integrate each other.


Federalism on a global level is a system based on the principle of subsidiarity in which policy responsibility is shared between different levels of decision-makers in global institutions to ensure a collective effort for the common concern of peace, security and development while respecting and retaining the legitimate sovereign status of nation-states.
International Federalism strides towards building and strengthening regional governance structures along federal lines are being made throughout all regions of the world: Africa — African Union (AU), the Americas — Organization of American States (OAS), Asia – Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) the International Federalism says that in order to create a cooperative relations among nation states, in order to achieve a mutual development the international federalism theory imply that a constitution that can create a common legal system helps the integration process in other areas like the economic and culture integration in a legal framework.


Intergovernmentalism is also a theory on international state integration which rejects the idea of neofunctionalism. The theory suggests that governments control the level and speed of the state integration. Any increase in power at supranational level, results from a direct decision by governments. Integration, driven by national governments, is often based on the domestic political and economic issues of the day.
The theory rejects the concept of the spill-over effect that neofunctionalism proposes. He also rejects the idea that supranational organizations are on an equal level as national governments.
Supra nationalism is a method of decision-making rather than a theory in
International organizations, where power is held by independent appointed officials or by representatives elected by the legislatures or people of the member states.
Member-state governments still have power, but they must share this power with other actors. Furthermore, decisions are made by majority votes, hence it is possible for a member-state to be forced by the other member-states to implement a decision against its will; however, unlike a federal state, member states fully retain their sovereignty and participate voluntarily, being subject to the supranational government only so far as they decide to remain members.
Few international organizations today operate on the basis of supra-nationalism; the main exceptions are the European Union and the South American Community Of Nations, often called Supranational Unions, as they incorporate both intergovernmental and supranational elements.




participationorganizations and/or individuals not directed or funded by any government
interdependencethe right to have absolute and unlimited power, either legal or political, within the territory of a state
subsidiarityto adapt, adjust
policy-makingthe act of becoming involved in the activities of a group
accommodatethe act of exercising authority
non state actorsa reciprocal relation between interdependent entities 
alterthe activity of deciding on new policies, especially by a government or political party
sovereigntyto make different, modify
interconnectthe principle of devolving decisions to the lowest practical level
governancebe interwoven or linked closely together


1. All elements within a society …………….. and work together.
2. If one dynamic is changed, it will …………….. the whole of society.
3. Society will change to …………….. the change.
4. Functionalists focus on common interests and needs shared by states but also by ………………
5. Member states fully retain their …………….. and participate voluntarily.
6. The increasing weight of knowledge and hence of scientists and experts in the process of …………….. .
7. In the functionalism theory, international integration the collective …………….. and …………….. between states develops its own internal dynamic.
8. The benefits rendered by the functional agencies would attract the loyalty of the populations and stimulate their …………….. and expand the area of integration.
9. Federalism on a global level is a system based on the principle of …………….. in which policy responsibility is shared between different levels of decision-makers.


autonomous supranational institutions
horizontal integration
regulatory regimes
sectoral integration
vertical integration

Integration Theory (Frank Schimmelfennig)

In the early days of European integration, ‘integration theory’ was equivalent to political science theorizing on the European Community and 1) ……………….. was the theory of European integration. Since then, theorizing has strongly diversified. On the one hand, neofunctionalism has been rivalled by 2) ……………….. theories of European integration since the 1960s. On the other hand, and more importantly, theories of European integration have been complemented by theories of European politics and 3) ………………... The theoretical division of labour is now between theories of European integration as theories of institutional change and theories of European governance as theories of politics, 4) ……………….. and policy-making within a given institutional framework.

Theories of European integration stipulate the conditions and mechanisms under which competencies and boundaries shift between levels and agents of 5) ……………… the European multi-level system. These shifts occur in three dimensions (Schimmelfennig and Rittberger 2006).

6) ……………….. (or ‘broadening’) refers to a process through which policy areas or sectors, which were previously governed exclusively at the national level, become (partially or exclusively) regulated by the EU.

7) ……………….. (or ‘deepening’) refers to the distribution of competencies between EU institutions in integrated policy sectors. An increase in this integration occurs when competencies are increasingly shared across EU member states (including changes from unanimity to qualified majority decision-making) or delegated to 8) ………………...

9) ……………….. (or ‘widening’) refers to the territorial extension of a given state of sectoral and vertical integration. Enlargement is the most important process of this type of integration but widening also takes place when non-member states adopt partial 10) ……………….. of the EU (such as ‘Schengen’) or member states broaden their integration (e.g. when they introduce the Euro).

Integration theories thus seek to explain how and under which conditions new policies come under European regulation, competencies are devolved from the nation state to the European level, and European rules expand in space. They also explain why some sectors and states were integrated sooner, and are integrated more deeply, than others.


In a broader sense, regionalisms emerge from existing or desired interactions and interdependencies (Söderbaum 2004: 16). Their regional character stems from 1) transcending/ established notions of nation and community and aiming to institutionalise a new form of inclusion and exclusion. Belonging to a region can be framed in geographic, ideological, functional, historic or social terms (or a combination of those). Regionalism embraces a “series of interlinked, but distinct, 2) phenomena/ phenomenon” (Gardini 2012: 51) while providing a 3) sensible/ ideational sphere for projects following a region-making paradigm. The most tangible form of regionalism is its institutionalisation in a regional organisation; 4) however, / therefore, such projects can take many other forms, involving high degrees of informality, non-state actors as driving forces and imaginations rather than implementation. With the proliferation of regionalisms across the globe, interregional contacts between the projects have increased, too, chiefly from the European Union (Ponjaert 2013).

These initiatives encompass a wide range of forms, 5) both/ either concerning their institutionalisation and the topics they cover. To categorise the 6) multitude/ magnitude of interregionalism scholars identify four types of interregional relations (see Rüland 2014, Söderbaum et al. 2006, Hänggi 2006, Baert et al. 2014). The most formalised type is pure interregionalism between 7) establishing/ established regional organisations. 8) Another/ The other type of interregionalism is transregional relations, which is a second category to capture relations between regions that lack internal cohesion. Membership in such region-to-region dialogues tends to be 9) diffuse/ diffused and is not moderated by pre-existing regional organisations. Nation-states from both regions participate on their own, even though regional powers can act as spokespersons (Rüland 2014). Hybrid interregionalism, sometimes called ‘quasi interregionalism’, is a third category, describing contacts between regional organisations and less institutionalised regional groupings, often delineated by the counterpart (Hänggi 2006). Some authors identify a fourth type, bilateralism, describing interactions between a regional organisation and individual states (Baert et al. 2014). This can be 10) subsumed/ included within the category of hybrid regionalism.