Xiao Alvin Yang

Kurzexposé zum Promotionsvorhaben von Xiao Alvin Yang

The Tensions Among Globalization, Regional Integration and the Resurgence of Nationalism: Critical Theoretical Discourse and Cases from East Asia, Europe and North America

This dissertation examines, from a theoretical, political-economic, social-cultural and comparative perspective, the current tensions among globalization, regional integration and the resurgence of nationalism in East Asia, Europe and North America. Why are the seemingly contradictory phenomena, globalization, regional integration and nationalism, happening simultaneously? To answer this central question, this dissertation is divided into the following descriptive, normative and theoretical sub-questions, with a special focus on third theoretical sub-question:

1)    What are the forms of tension arising from the interplay of competing strategies and actions by the most powerful state and non-state actors in these regions, particularly in context of the re-emergence of China and its ambitious One Belt One Road(OBOR) initiative? How and to which extent do they interrelate and interconnect? (descriptive)
2)    Why do these diverse actors take these competing strategies and actions? In other words, what are underlying ideational forces that motivate them? What are the tensions between their existing worldviews and conflicting material interests? (normative)
3)    How can different political, social and cultural theories in international relations and global political economy explain these contradictory and simultaneous phenomena of globalization, regional integration and nationalism? (theoretical)

To answer the descriptive questions, different strategies by various actors are systematically divided, codified and analyzed. Firstly, they are divided into five main categories: foreign policy, trade arrangements, security configurations, institutional frameworks and nationalist movements. These five categories are indispensable to the central analyses of this dissertation because they represent five types of interconnected tensions: policy, trade, geopolitical, institutional and ideational tensions. After the systematic categorization, they are codified by utilizing the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) codes. Subsequently, set theory is applied to map out and analyze these complex and interconnected networks. For example, China’s One Belt One Road (OBOR) initiative, foreign policy of the EU and the US are compared, contrasted, and analyzed by using concepts from set theory in order to reveal the structural and agential tensions.
To answer the normative questions, this dissertation examines the contested and evolving visions of globalization, regional integration, nationalism in relation to the changes of the actual processes. Grounded on historical contexts, it focuses on the contested visions in the 20th and 21st centuries. It scrutinizes how different worldviews may create tensions and conflicts among different actors. Moreover, this dissertation connects politics with economics by linking trade&investment with security arrangements.  
Furthermore, it seeks to find theoretical explanations to these observed phenomena by critically reviewing, examining and applying the existing international relations (IR) and international political economy (IPE) theories, such as neo-realist, neo-liberal, constructivist, marxist, and post-structuralist theories. The underlying epistemological and ontological assumptions of these theories are revealed in order to illustrate why there are gaps and different interpretations of the same phenomena. It also challenges the Euro-Americano-centric theoretical narratives and interpretations by bringing non-western IR theories, particularly the emerging Chinese IR theories into the discourse.
Moreover, this research stresses a trans-disciplinary approach by drawing conceptual tools from IR, IPE, developmental economics, area studies, critical globalization studies, history and philosophy to examine the aforementioned phenomena because these phenomena are the result of the different dimensions of factors interacting with each other. It is also designed in a novel way that the interconnected and interrelated descriptive, normative and theoretical sub-questions can be examined simultaneously and independently.  In other words, they do not need to be analyzed in a sequential way. They are also mutually reinforcing because the deepening understanding of one sub-question increases the understanding of the other two sub-questions which in turn leads to greater understanding of the whole.

Research Interests:
Global IR and IPE Theories,  Emerging Chinese and Canadian IR Theories,  China's Belt and Road Initiative, Global Governance,  Global Political Economy, Research Methods, Econometrics, Philosophy of Science/s and History/s

Contact: musicianalvinyang[at]gmail[dot]com