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Social Theory’s Methodological Nationalism

Social Theory’s Methodological Nationalism The equation between the concept of society and the nation-state in modernity isknown as methodological nationalism in scholarly debates. In agreement with thethesis that methodological nationalism must be rejected and transcended, thisarticle argues that we still lack an understanding of what methodologicalnationalism actually is and, because of that, we remain unable to answer thesubstantive problem methodological nationalism poses to social theory: how tounderstand the history, main features and legacy of the nation-state in modernity.The first section of the article reconstructs the origins of the critique ofmethodological nationalism in the 1970s and differentiates between its logical andhistorical versions. It then critically reviews the most salient critique ofmethodological nationalism in contemporary social theory, that of Ulrich Beck. Thefinal part of the article assesses the thesis of social theory’s immanentmethodological nationalism by demonstrating how social theory’sequivocations towards the nation-state only mirror the nation-state’s ownambivalence within modernity. It is shown that social theory’s ambivalentattempts at conceptualizing the nation-state reflect the actual ambivalence of theposition of the nation-state in modernity: its historical opacity, its sociologicaluncertainty and its normative ambiguity. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png European Journal of Social Theory SAGE

Social Theory’s Methodological Nationalism

European Journal of Social Theory , Volume 9 (1): 18 – Feb 1, 2006

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References (56)

Publisher
SAGE
Copyright
Copyright © by SAGE Publications
ISSN
1368-4310
eISSN
1461-7137
DOI
10.1177/1368431006060460
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

The equation between the concept of society and the nation-state in modernity isknown as methodological nationalism in scholarly debates. In agreement with thethesis that methodological nationalism must be rejected and transcended, thisarticle argues that we still lack an understanding of what methodologicalnationalism actually is and, because of that, we remain unable to answer thesubstantive problem methodological nationalism poses to social theory: how tounderstand the history, main features and legacy of the nation-state in modernity.The first section of the article reconstructs the origins of the critique ofmethodological nationalism in the 1970s and differentiates between its logical andhistorical versions. It then critically reviews the most salient critique ofmethodological nationalism in contemporary social theory, that of Ulrich Beck. Thefinal part of the article assesses the thesis of social theory’s immanentmethodological nationalism by demonstrating how social theory’sequivocations towards the nation-state only mirror the nation-state’s ownambivalence within modernity. It is shown that social theory’s ambivalentattempts at conceptualizing the nation-state reflect the actual ambivalence of theposition of the nation-state in modernity: its historical opacity, its sociologicaluncertainty and its normative ambiguity.

Journal

European Journal of Social TheorySAGE

Published: Feb 1, 2006

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