Sociology and the nation-state : beyond methodological nationalism
The equation between society and the nation-state in sociology has been subject to severe criticisms in recent times. This equation has been given the name of ‘methodological nationalism’ and is underpinned by a reading of the history of sociology in which the discipline’s key concept, society, and modernity’s major sociopolitical referent, the nation-state, allegedly converge. At the critical level, my thesis argues that this is too restrictive a view of the history of the discipline and at the positive level it reconstructs the conventional version of sociology’s canon in relation to nation-states. The first part of the thesis surveys the main trends in the current sociological mainstream, reviews the rise of the critique of methodological nationalism and establishes a distinction between a referential and a regulative role of the idea of society in sociology. The body of the thesis constructs a history of the sociology of the nation-state in its classical (K. Marx, M. Weber and E. Durkheim), modernist (T. Parsons and historical sociology) and cosmopolitan (U. Beck and M. Castells) moments. As an essay on the history of sociology, this thesis seeks to uncover how the conceptual ambivalences of sociology reflect the actual ambivalences in the position and legacy of nation-states in modernity.