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Sociological Forum, Vol. 13, No. 4, 1998
BeyondNation-State Paradigms: Globalization, Sociology, and the Challenge of Transnational Studiesl
William I. Robinson2,3
Globalization has made it increasingly necessary to break with nation-state centered analysis in macrosociologies. Social structure is becoming transnationalized,and an epistemologicalshift is requiredin concurrence with this ontological change. A newinterdisciplinarytransnational studies should be predicated on a paradigmatic shift in the focus of social inquiryfrom the nation-state as the basic unit of analysis to the global system as the appropriate unit. Sociology's fundamental contribution to a transnational studies should be the study of transnational social structure. This article does not establish a new transnational paradigm. Rather, it surveys and critiquesnation-state-centrism in extant paradigms, provides a rationale for a new transnational approach, and proposes a research curriculum of a new transnationalstudies that may contributeto paradigmatic reconceptualization.
KEY WORDS: nation-state; macrosociology; transnational studies; development. globalization; comparative sociology;
In times of structural transformation representativity entersan alliance with the past and blocks our view of the peaks of the future that are intruding onto the horizon on all sides . . . Before clarity can be achieved here, however, a bit more future must come into view.-Ulrich Beck
Annual Meeting, Toronto, Canada, August 1997. 2Department of Sociology and Anthropology, P. 0. Box 30001, MSC 3BV, New Mexico State University, Las Cruces, New Mexico88003-8001. 3To whom correspondence should be addressed. 561
1An earlier draft of this paper was presented at the American Sociological Association, 92nd
0884-8971/98/1200-0561$15.00/0 ? 1998 Plenum Publishing Corporation
INTRODUCTION Sociology, and the social sciences in general, are attempting to come to terms with globalization as the world-historic context of eventson the eve of the 21st century. Acknowledgment of the growing importance of studying the whole world "as a legitimate object of knowledge" (Sklair, 1995a:1) has contributed to the emergence of multidisciplinary units dedicated to "global studies" or "transnational studies" in universities in the United States and elsewhere. Alongside this emergence is a proliferation of research institutes,...