Comparative European Politics

, Volume 16, Issue 2, pp 224–248 | Cite as

State spatiality in an era of global and regional interdependence: The linkage governance approach

  • Jim Buller
Original Article


Since the 1990s, political science has been criticised for its inability to adequately theorise the role and nature of the state in an era of global interdependence. In particular, the discipline is said to have fallen into a ‘territorial trap’. It is founded on a territorial conception of space that both reifies and limits debate about the state to whether it is ‘obsolete’ or ‘obstinate’ in a world where power is increasingly located in transnational functional space between countries. This article responds to this argument, providing a conception of state spatiality that stresses its contingent and variable nature. It claims that state actors can author functional transnational space by fusing together domestic and international objects into distinct ‘linkage governance’ (LG) strategies, although such behaviour will have unintended consequences and not always be successful. It is hoped this LG perspective will open up a more fruitful set of research questions concerning the role of the state in the fluid and dynamic world of the twenty-first century.


the state spatiality the ‘territorial trap’ governance transnationalism philosophical realism 



This article has gone through multiple drafts and re-writes, and constraints of space prevent the author from acknowledging everybody who has provided useful feedback on it over the years. As well as expressing his gratitude to a number of anonymous reviewers who have provided helpful comments, the author would particularly like to thank Matthew Festenstein, Martin Smith and Kai Oppermann for their continued support. This article would not have seen the light of day without it.


  1. Aalberts, T.E. (2004) The future of sovereignty in multilevel governance Europe – A constructivist reading. Journal of Common Market Studies 42(1): 23–46.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Agnew, J. (1994) The territorial trap: The geographical assumptions of international relations theory. Review of International Political Economy 1(1): 53–80.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Agnew, J. (1999) Mapping political power beyond state boundaries: Territory, identity and movement in world politics. Millennium 28(3): 499–521.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Agnew, J. and Corbridge, S. (1995) Mastering Space: Hegemony, Territory and International Political Economy. London: Routledge.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Alexander, K. (2014) The ECB and banking supervision: Building effective prudential supervision? Yearbook of European Law 33(1): 417–432.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Archer, M.S. (1982) Morphogenesis versus structuration: On combining structure and action. British Journal of Sociology 33(4): 455–483.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Archer, M.S. (1995) Realist Social Theory: The Morphogenetic Approach. Cambridge, UK/US: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Ashley, R.K. (1988) Untying the sovereign state: A double reading of the anarchy problematique. Millennium 17(2): 227–262.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Bach, D. (2010) Varieties of cooperation: The domestic institutional roots of global governance. Review of International Studies 36(3): 561–589.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Baker, A. (2006) The Group of Seven: Finance Ministers, Central Banks and Global Financial Governance. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  11. Beck, U. (2005) Power in the Global Age. Cambridge, UK: Polity.Google Scholar
  12. Bell, D. (2014) Beyond the sovereign state: Isopolitan citizenship, race and Anglo-American union. Political Studies 62(2): 418–434.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Borzel, T. (2002) Pace-setting, foot-dragging and fence-sitting: Member state responses to Europeanization. Journal of Common Market Studies 40(2): 193–214.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Borzel, T.A. and Risse, T. (2003) Conceptualising the domestic impact of Europe. In: K. Featherstone and C. Radaelli (eds.) (2003) The Politics of Europeanisation. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  15. Borzel, T.A. and Panke, D. (2013) Europeanization. In: M. Cini and N. Perez-Solorzano Borragan (eds.) European Union Politics. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  16. Brenner, N. (1999) Beyond state-centrism? Space, territoriality, and geographical scale in globalisation studies. Theory and Society 28(1): 39–78.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Brenner, N. (2001) The limits to scale? Progress in Human Geography 25(4): 591–614.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Brenner, N., Jessop, B., Jones, M. and MacLeod, G. (eds.) (2003) Introduction: State space in question. In: State/Space: A Reader. Oxford: Blackwell.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Bulmer, S. and Lequesne, C. (eds.) (2005) The European Union and its member states: An overview. In: The Member States and the European Union. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  20. Buzan, B. (1995) The level of analysis problem in international relations reconsidered. In: K. Booth and S. Smith (eds.) International Relations Theory Today. Cambridge, UK: Polity, pp. 198–216.Google Scholar
  21. Caporaso, J. (1997) Across the great divide: Integrating comparative and international politics. International Studies Quarterly 41(4): 563–592.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Carlsnaes, W. (2012) Actors, structures and foreign policy analysis. In: S. Smith, A. Hadfield and T. Dunne (eds.) Foreign Policy: Theories, Actors and Cases, 2nd edn. Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 113–129.Google Scholar
  23. Cerny, P.G. (2010) Rethinking World Politics: A Theory of Transnational Neopluralism. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Clark, I. (1997) Globalization and Fragmentation: International relations in the Twentieth Century. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  25. Clark, I. (1998) Beyond the great divide: Globalization and the theory of international relations. Review of International Studies 24(4): 479–498.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Clark, I. (1999) Globalization and International Relations Theory. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  27. Coates, D. and Hay, C. (2001) The internal and external face of new labour’s political economy. Government and Opposition 36(4): 447–471.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Collins (1982) New Collins Concise Dictionary of the English Language. Glasgow: Collins.Google Scholar
  29. Cohen, B. (1998) The Geography of Money. Ithaca, NY & London: Cornell University Press.Google Scholar
  30. Connolly, B. (1995) The Rotten Heart of Europe: The Dirty War for Europe’s Money. London: Faber and Faber.Google Scholar
  31. Cowles, M.G., Caporaso, J. and Risse, T. (eds.) (2001) Transforming Europe: Europeanisation and Domestic Change. Ithaca, NY and London: Cornell University Press.Google Scholar
  32. Cox, R. (1981) Social forces, states and world orders: Beyond international relations theory. Millennium 10(2): 126–155.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Cox, R. (1987) Production, Power and the World Order: Social Forces in the Making of History. New York: Colombia University Press.Google Scholar
  34. Crouch, C. and Streeck, W. (eds.) (1997) Political Economy of Modern Capitalism: Mapping Convergence and Diversity. London: Sage.Google Scholar
  35. Dessler, D. (1989) What’s at stake in the agent-structure debate. International Organization 43(3): 441–473.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Frey, F. (1985) The problem of actor designation in political science. Comparative Politics 17(2): 127–152.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Glassman, J. (1999) State power beyond the ‘territorial trap’: The internationalisation of the state. Political Geography 18(6): 669–696.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Gonzalez-Vincente, R. (2011) The internationalization of the Chinese state. Political Geography 30(7): 402–411.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Grahl, J. (1997) After Maastricht: A Guide to European Monetary Union. London: Lawrence and Wishart.Google Scholar
  40. Goetz, K.H. and Hix, S. (2001) Europeanised Politics? European Integration and National Political Systems. London: Frank Cass.Google Scholar
  41. Gray, J. (1998) False Dawn: Delusions of Global Capitalism. London: Granta Publications.Google Scholar
  42. Hall, P. and Soskice, D. (eds.) (2001) Varieties of Capitalism. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Hancke, B., Rhodes, M. and Thatcher, M. (eds.) (2007) Beyond Varieties of Capitalism. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Hay, C. (1995) Structure and agency. In: D. Marsh and G. Stoker (eds.) Theories and Methods in Political Science. Basingstoke, UK: Palgrave Macmillan.Google Scholar
  45. Hay, C. (2002) Political Analysis: A Critical Introduction. Basingstoke, UK: Palgrave Macmillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Heseltine, M. (1991) The Challenge of Europe: Can Britain Win? London: Pan Macmillan.Google Scholar
  47. Hobson, J.M. (2000) The State and International Relations. Cambridge, UK/US: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Hollis, M. and Smith, S. (1991) Beware of gurus: Structure and action in international relations. Review of International Studies 17(4): 393–410.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Jackson, G. and Deeg, R. (2008) From comparing capitalisms to the politics of institutional change. Review of International Political Economy 15(4): 680–709.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Jessop, B. (1990) State Theory: Putting the Capitalist State in its Place. Cambridge, UK: Polity.Google Scholar
  51. Jordan, A., Huitema, D., Rayner, T. and van Asselt, H. (2010) Governing the European Union: Policy choices and governance dilemmas. In: A. Jordan, D. Huitema, T. Rayner and F. Berkhout (eds.) Climate Change Policy in the European Union. Cambridge, UK/US: Cambridge University Press, pp. 29–51.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Joseph, J. and Wight, C. (eds.) (2010) Scientific Realism and International Relations. Basingstoke, UK: Palgrave Macmillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Keohane, R.O. and Nye, J.S. (1974) Transgovernmental relations and international organizations. World Politics 27(1): 39–62.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Khagram, S. and Levitt, P. (eds.) (2008) The Transnational Studies Reader. NewYork and London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  55. Lamont, N. (1999) In Office. London: Little Brown.Google Scholar
  56. Lawson, N. (1992) The View From Number Eleven. London: Bantam.Google Scholar
  57. Layder, D. (2006) Understanding Social Theory, 2nd edn. London: Sage.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Mayes, D.G. (2001) The European monetary system. In: A.M. El-Agraa (ed.) The European Union: Economics and Policies, 6th edn. London: Prentice Hall.Google Scholar
  59. McAnulla, S. (2002) Structure and agency. In: D. Marsh and G. Stoker (eds.) Theory and Methods in Political Science, 2nd edn. Basingstoke, UK: Palgrave Macmillan.Google Scholar
  60. Moloney, N. (2014) European banking union: Assessing its risks and resilience. Common Market Law Review 51(6): 1609–1670.Google Scholar
  61. Moore, S. and Newey, G. (2013) If the cap fits: Reform of the European climate policy and the EU emissions trading system. Policy Exchange,, accessed 1 July 2015.
  62. Nye, M. and Owens, S. (2008) Creating the UK emissions trading scheme: Motives and symbolic politics. European Environment 18(1): 1–15.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Ohame, K. (1996) The End of the Nation State: The Rise of Regional Economics. London: Harper Collins.Google Scholar
  64. Painter, J. (2010) Rethinking territory. Antipode 42(5): 1090–1118.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Phillips, N. (2005) Bridging the comparative/international divide in the study of states. New Political Economy 10(3): 33–343.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Reid-Henry, S. (2010) Geopolitics roundtable: New thinking on territory, sovereignty and power, the territorial trap fifteen years on. Geopolitics 15(4): 752–756.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Risse-Kappen, T. (ed.) (1995) Bringing transnational relations back in: Introduction. In: T. Risse-kapen (ed.) Bringing Transnational Relations Back In: Non-state Actors, Domestic Structures and International Institutions. Cambridge, UK/US: Cambridge University Press, pp. 3–33.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Rosenau, J. (1997) Along the Domestic-Foreign Frontier: Exploring Governance in a Turbulent World. Cambridge, UK/US: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. Rosenau, J. (2000) Change, complexity and governance in globalizing space. In: J. Pierre (ed.) Debating Governance: Authority, Steering and Democracy. Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 167–200.Google Scholar
  70. Ruggie, J.G. (1993) Territoriality and beyond: Problematizing modernity in international relations. International Organization 47(1): 139–174.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  71. Ruggie, J. (2004) Reconstructing the global public domain – Issues, actors and practices. European Journal of International Relations 10(4): 499–531.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  72. Sassen, S. (2008) Territory, Authority, Rights: From Medieval to Global Assemblages, 2nd edn. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  73. Sayer, A. (1992) Method in Social Science: A Realist Approach, 2nd edn. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  74. Singer, J.D. (1961) The level of analysis problem in international relations. World Politics 14(1): 77–92.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  75. Skocpol, T. (1977) Wallerstein’s world capitalist system: A theoretical and historical critique. American Journal of Sociology 82(5): 1075–1090.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  76. Slaughter, A.-M. (2004) A New World Order. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  77. Stephens, P. (1996) Politics and the Pound. Basingstoke, UK: Palgrave Macmillan.Google Scholar
  78. Stone, D. (2008) Global public policy, transnational policy communities and their networks. Policy Studies Journal 36(1): 19–38.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  79. Strange, S. (1996) The Retreat of the State: The Diffusion of Power in the World Economy. Cambridge, UK/US: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  80. Thrift, N. (1985) Bear and mouse or tree and bear? Anthony Giddens’ reconstruction of social theory. Sociology 19(4): 609–623.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  81. Urry, J. (1982) Duality of structure: Some critical issues. Theory, Culture and Society 1(2): 100–106.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  82. Van Asselt, H. (2010) Emissions trading: The enthusiastic adoption of an alien instrument? In: A. Jordan, D. Huitema, T. Rayner and F. Berkhout (eds.) Climate Change Policy in the European Union. Cambridge, UK/US: Cambridge University Press, pp. 125–144.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  83. Vink, M.P. and Graziano, P. (eds.) (2007) Challenges of a new research agenda. In: Europeanization: New Research Agendas. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 3–20.Google Scholar
  84. Walker, R.J.B. (1993) Inside/Outside: International Relations As Political Theory. Cambridge, UK/US: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  85. Weiss, L. (1999) The Myth of the Powerless State: Governing the Economy in a Global Era. Cambridge, UK: Polity.Google Scholar
  86. Weiss, L. (ed.) (2003) States in the Global Economy: Bringing Domestic Institutions Back In. Cambridge, UK/US: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  87. Wendt, A. (1987) The agent-structure problem in international relations theory. International Organization 41(3): 335–370.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  88. Wendt, A. (1991) Bridging the theory/meta-theory gap in international relations. Review of International Studies 17(4): 383–392.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  89. Wight, C. (2006) Agents, Structures and International Relations. Cambridge, UK/US: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  90. Wimmer, A. and Glick Schiller, N. (2002) Methodological nationalism and beyond: Nation-state building, migration and the social sciences. Global Networks 2(4): 301–334.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  91. Woodward, R. (2005) Money and the spatial challenge: Multi-level governance and the ‘territorial trap’. In: A. Baker, D. Hudson and R. Woodward (eds.) Governing Financial Globalization: International Political Economy and Multi-level Governance. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  92. Zurn, M. (2002) From interdependence to globalization. In W. Carlsnaes, T. Risse and B.A. Simmons (eds.) Handbook of International Relations. London: Sage.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Macmillan Publishers Ltd 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jim Buller
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Politics, University of YorkYorkUK

Personalised recommendations