Center for Advanced Studies LMU (CAS)

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Methodological Cosmopolitanism

Social sciences have been opening up to global transformations and categories since the 1990s. Indeed, the "global" has become the centre of a new self-critical discourse in the social sciences. However, its theories and research routines remain stuck in the observation categories and interpretation patterns of the "national". Their implicit assumption is that "modern society" and "modern politics" can only exist when organized along nation-state lines. Research questions as well as political and social questions emerging due to the increasing incongruence of boundaries cannot be satisfactorily answered in the framework of this "methodological nationalism" –be it empirically or theoretically. Social relations and symbols that undermine or cross-link the attributions to state or territory can be neither perceived nor analysed. So this research focus is concerned with what it considers as a necessary "cosmopolitan turn" in social science research and theory formation, not just from a thematic but especially from a methodological perspective. A key question arising from methodological cosmopolitanism is: which unit of analysis can be taken as a starting point for social theory and research? Or more precisely: How can one find and define units of analysis beyond methodological nationalism that allow for a comparative analysis of the variations in cosmopolitan modernity?


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