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Regionalism Definition: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: David Wilson

David has taught college history and holds an MA in history.

People living in the same area with similar beliefs and ideals often come together to create governments or structures, a process known as regionalism. Learn about how regionalism affects our world in this lesson.

Regionalism in Real Life

How many people in the world are just like you? The answer to that question depends upon how you think of yourself. For example, there are a lot of kids your age around the world, but not very many speak the same language as you. There are also lots of people who like your favorite foods or movies, but they may live in another country.

These similarities lead to people of different backgrounds coming together over a shared idea. This process is called regionalism and it's responsible for major governments, projects, and ideas.

Examples of Regionalism

Africa

Regionalism can take place in any part of the globe - wherever you can find people who have similar beliefs. For example, people living in the countries of southern Africa speak different languages, practice different religions, and live in different geographical areas, such as city dwellers or hunters on the savanna. Nevertheless, they're all members of an organization called the Southern African Power Pool (SAPP), which allows them to produce and sell electricity.

Flag of South American trade group Mercosur
Mercosur flag

South America

In the same manner, almost every country in the South American trade group called Mercosur (pronounced mer-ker-ser) speaks the same language - Spanish - but they have different cultures and customs. These Mercosur nations decided that creating a trade group was the best way for them to make money. Imagine how great it would be to trade your food at lunch time with school kids from other countries; this will give you get an idea of why regionalism is very popular.

Regionalism is closely related to another idea: globalism. According to globalism, all the people, places, and countries in the world are connected to and dependent on one another.

Arguments Against Regionalism

While regionalism is a very common way for many people to come together and make changes, it can also result in many people being unhappy about these changes. During the U.S. presidential election in 2016, Donald Trump claimed that our country's participation in the North American Free Trade Act (NAFTA) and membership in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) were unfair to Americans. These types of claims, aimed at average citizens, represent a type of thinking called populism. Since populism typically appeals to a specific group of people, it sometimes (but not necessarily always) runs counter to regionalism.

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