This article engages questions of policy convergence and divergence in four social-democratic European regions (Andalucía, Brittany, Wales, and Wallonia) in a period of economic crisis and ongoing political decentralization. It develops an analytical framework, the "States of Convergence," as a useful heuristic for understanding the interplay between convergence and divergence pressures, and processes of territorial adaptation and translation. Processes of hard and soft convergence and divergence operate in distinctive ways depending upon whether inputs, outcomes, processes, or institutions are considered. Hard convergence arguments are most convincing in terms of inputs (referring to pressures of international ranking and rating, tougher European Union budgetary rules, enhanced central steering and tighter controls on public expenditure). They are less cogent for understanding outputs, institutions, and processes.
Scopus Subject Areas
- Sociology and Political Science
- Public Administration