The Community Metaphor in ASEAN Discourse and Its Influence on Economic Integration

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The ASEAN Charter, which was ratified in 2008 by its 10 Member States, has provided ASEAN with an institutional framework for integration in the region in various areas. This greater focus on integration would impact on actors in the region, principally on the operation of businesses. One way to study the policy of ASEAN on economic integration is to examine the factors for its adoption in the context of how the organization envisions itself. This paper analyzes ASEAN's discourse on economic integration using frameworks provided by organizational sociology. The paper argues that ASEAN's discourse on integration is shaped by other aspects of the discourse that have happened within ASEAN. The analysis assumes that ASEAN is an organization, having acquired an organizational culture consisting of shared practices, symbols, and values. It also has a shared way of understanding and articulating reality, that is, a common discourse. Organizational discourse influences what is important to an organization, such that certain areas are highly emphasized in the discourse of the organization while others are less emphasized. This paper uses discourse analysis as a methodology, examining the interdiscursivity among signs and metaphors, ti study the transformation of ASEAN's economic integration policy. The paper concludes that its policy on economic integration is a reflection of a larger change in ASEAN's discourse about its identity and goals as a regional organization.