Governing Transnationalisation and the Transformation of Sovereignty

Leif Kalev, Mari-Liis Jakobson


In this article, we examine transnationalism and its governance with a view on the transformation of sovereignty. Transnationalism and sovereignty are in many ways conflicting but also necessarily connected. We explore these connections, more specifically, how the states (governments) govern, regulate, and utilise contexts that have developed transnational characteristics – e.g., via migration, economic transnationalisation, and meso-level trans-border cooperation. On this basis, we develop a typology of state-driven governance of transnationalism. This typology is discussed in juxtaposition to sovereignty as a multidimensional phenomenon and related to the main aspects of sovereignty: internal, external, and popular sovereignty.

We conclude that transnationalisation is governable by the states, given adequate institutional arrangements. Sovereignty, especially internal sovereignty, can also be accumulated by the governments in transnational contexts. Popular and external sovereignty become fuzzier as people move around, and so does territory, as states no longer operate confined only to their borders. Instead, the administrative state becomes more relevant as the locus of sovereignty, as transnationals are necessarily related to administrative rules and procedures governing their movement, settlement, and activities. However, to the extent popular and external sovereignty remain relevant, they act as balances to the increase in internal sovereignty.

Keywords: transnationalism, governance, the state, sovereignty, migration.

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