A typology of the localism-regionalism nexus

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Cities are traditionally characterized as a sub-unit of the state that functions as a socioeconomic node. However, global trends in recent decades indicate that cities are gradually acquiring a semi-independent political role, challenging and contesting the nation state's authority. Into the twenty-first century, cities' actions in global politics (e.g., supranational city-based networks) and within the state (e.g., sanctuary cities) indicate that they aspire to attain or even directly claim more political autonomy. However, achieving these localist goals sometimes warrants regional cooperation with neighboring municipal jurisdictions, thereby engendering ad-hoc and bottom-up regionalisms. Addressing this phenomenon theoretically, this Article analyzes three empirically and conceptually distinct types of the localist-regionalist nexus, demonstrating different rationales: (1) regional cooperation supporting localist innovation independent of state intervention; (2) regional cooperation supporting localist contestation of state policies; and (3) regional solidarity in the face of national tensions. Based on recent examples from Israel, it analyzes these three types along with their political and normative implications. Despite various discrepancies and possible tensions between localism and regionalism, the main conclusion emerging from this Article is that these two principles are not mutually exclusive. Moreover, although there are legal, institutional, political, and ideological tensions between them, the analysis suggests a third way between localism or regionalism. Likewise, some types of regionalization may act as a mechanism or tactic to support and deepen localist agendas.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)213-239
Number of pages27
JournalTheoretical Inquiries in Law
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 Jul 2023

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Law


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