Date of Award

Fall 2015

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Political Science & Geography


Graduate Program in International Studies

Committee Director

Kurt T. Gaubatz

Committee Member

Jesse Richman

Committee Member

Peter Schulman


This dissertation aims to propose a general theory of disintegration. This subject is not treated directly by some theoretical accounts and mistreated by others. European integration theories are fashioned to explain the greater integration process while game-theoretic approaches to withdrawals and secessions, even if treating disintegration directly, fail to include critically responsible factors. This dissertation offers a constructive criticism of both accounts. Since neither turning integration theories symmetrically around nor direct, game-theoretic assessment of disintegration help to provide sufficient explanation, it is suggested that the problem of symmetrical reversal and rational conduct must be revised.

Disintegration fails to follow the rules suggested by symmetrical reversal of integration. Therefore, it requires independent theoretical account which would pay attention to new, unique factors. Many withdrawal and secession games include these factors but at the price of paralysis of conduct. This dissertation’s argument is that these new factors should be identified and described narratively in order to understand why this conduct becomes troublesome. It is suggested that the problem is located in uncertainty about payoffs’ value and nature. Since actors of disintegration game bargain over different issues rather than upon integration and since these issues often assume non-quantifiable values, disintegration becomes qualitatively different from integration, integration theories prove to be unfit, and game-theoretic accounts need more cautious application. Case studies introduced in three structures of analysis – states, intergovernmental organizations and the European Union – aim to test and confirm subsequent elements of the proposed theory. The constructive criticism of both integration theories and withdrawal/secession games aim to make the general theory of disintegration applicable to many different forms of political structure.

As a conclusion, this dissertation points out strengths of this new account on disintegration and encourages researchers to further extend its framework. The theory can help policymakers to understand negotiations better and to learn how to accommodate the risk. Academic researchers should be able to provide reliable analyses so that public opinion is not be shaped by the fear of the unknown and misinterpreted.


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