Conference Agenda

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Session Overview
RN15_01: Going Beyond Methodological Nationalism
Wednesday, 21/Aug/2019:
11:00am - 12:30pm

Session Chair: Tiina Kontinen, University of Jyväskylä
Location: BS.4.04A
Manchester Metropolitan University Building: Business School, Fourth Floor, North Atrium Oxford Road

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The Challenge of a Global Sociological Imagination

Marco Caselli

Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Italy

Many sociologists, Ulrich Beck among the others, suggested that – due to globalization processes – we must go beyond methodological nationalism in studying societies. But, in practical terms, how is this possible? I think we still miss a convincing and final answer on this. In order to find it, we need a “global sociological imagination”. In the late ’50s, Charles Wright-Mills wrote that sociological imagination is “the vivid awareness of the relationship between experience and the wider society”. Starting from this, I think that global sociological imagination should be the vivid awareness of the relationships between personal experience, local dynamics, multi-local dynamics, sovranational dynamics, global dynamics and processes. Going further, we know that sociology studies (social) facts but, contrary to popular belief, facts don’t speak for themselves. So, we need sociological imagination, and now global sociological imagination, in order to understand these facts. We also know that sociology is looking for good answers but, before this, sociology needs good questions. So, we need global sociological imagination also to find good questions about our global society. This contribution reflects on how to go beyond methodological nationalism and on the questions we should ask in order to understand our contemporary global society.

Situating The Self: Towards A Global Sociology Of Migrancy And Identity?

Peter Holley

University of Helsinki, Finland

Like much of sociological thinking, migration studies have for the most part, suffered from a methodological nationalist gaze according which to which core concepts such as society and culture are uncritically related to a national(ist) order of things and particular nation-state building projects. For those with an interest in migrancy, such a perspective often unwittingly positions those studied (i.e. migrants) as Others, members of predefined national communities, aliens in the particular locale in which they are studied. Rather than learning about the ways in which migrants understand themselves and experience their lives, we (social scientists/migration scholars) may end up reproducing epistemic violence by reifying the perceived alterity of those whom we study. How, then, might we study migrancy without reproducing oppressive ways of knowing?

Drawing on a ‘global power perspective’, this paper seeks to develop an active sociological listening through which we may study phenomena such as migrancy and its resultant identities, while remaining attuned to both the complexity of today’s society and the power asymmetries that impact upon individual and collective lived experiences. Rather than inadvertently reproducing the hegemonic discourses that result in the subjectification of those studied, this paper seeks to focus our gaze upon the ways in which individual actors make sense of and apprehend themselves in evermore interconnected world. This does not mean that national identifications and affiliations are rejected. Rather, they viewed as one of many possible ways of situating the self.

„Making Up People “ Globally. Analyzing the Institutionalization of Global Categories of Difference

Marion Mueller, Hannah Bennani

Universoty of Tuebingen, Germany

In the last decades world society has been described as increasingly diverse and pluralistic. Simultaneously global norms have been established (e.g. equity and inclusion) by which international politics try to deal with these differences between people and create equal opportunities. Despite this global debate, sociological research about the construction and deconstruction of cultural distinctions drawn between members of a society (e.g. gender or race) stayed attached to the thinking of methodological nationalism and has focused mainly on local or national contexts. It seems that – at least implicitly – the assumption is made that globalization has no impact on the creation of differences between people. In our paper we want to ask about the scope of these differences and present the concept of “global categories of persons”. We assume that global categories of persons play an important role in the process of globalization: By describing people around the world as members of the same categories (e.g. as women or as person with disabilities) people can perceive themselves as members of a common world – even without direct contact to each other. So, we ask what kind of categories of persons in the realm of international politics and law have been established on a global scale up to now (e.g. “race”, “gender”, “persons with disabilities”) and which has not been successfully institutionalized yet (e.g. “poor people”).

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