What Is the Theoretical Purchase of ‘the Global' in Global Sociology?

Tuesday, 12 July 2016: 09:00
Location: Hörsaal 21 (Juridicum)
Oral Presentation
Gurminder K. BHAMBRA, University of Warwick, United Kingdom
Analytically, ‘the global’ has often come to be substituted for ‘the modern’ in sociology; in doing so, it effaces the history associated with the modern and is presented as a simple descriptor of the current condition. The history, and the developmental schema associated with it, is no longer in question; and, no longer being in question, becomes naturalised. Once the question of ‘history’ is removed from consideration, the global simply becomes a seemingly simple descriptive space within which different tendencies and processes can be observed. There is no necessity for coherence across the different analyses and, indeed, coherence is seen to be one of the problems identified in earlier modernist discourses. The turn to the global, then, both perpetuates the earlier analytical frameworks that structured sociological thought, and, by rendering those frameworks invisible, displaces critique of them. By subsuming the analytical to the descriptive, the global is also able to become the space for the play of postmodern narratives. In this way, ‘the global’ is at one and the same time the continuation of a modernist analytical framework and sympathetic to the postmodern turn. It is this, I argue, that means that such instantiations of sociological concepts and categories are repetitions of inadequacy rather than a resolution of what had been identified as problematic. In contrast, I argue for 'connected sociologies' as a more adequate way of addressing the challenges associated with 'global historical sociology'.