Published online by Cambridge University Press: 24 August 2019
What is ‘ASEAN’ exactly? Is it a collective noun for describing ten states in Southeast Asia, or is ASEAN something more than that – and if so, what? These deceptively simple questions need answering to understand what has been achieved and what is achievable within and by ASEAN for consumers. This chapter therefore examines what is meant by the so-called ‘ASEAN way’ – a term frequently adopted by key players to explain and justify ASEAN’s role and existence. It also explores the influences of the European Union’s structures and instruments on ASEAN’s use of formal governance mechanisms and its use of concepts such as an ‘economic community’ to define itself. The chapter also considers ASEAN’s meaning and purpose from a range of theoretical perspectives, including: new regionalism; game theory and reciprocity; collective action; and social networks and the networked polity. The chapter further explores ways ASEAN can become more effective in advancing consumer interests through transgovernmentalism, ‘trading up’ and legal transplantation. Some of these perspectives are adopted when examining the topics covered in the following chapters in this volume.