National and Global Sociology

Wednesday, 13 July 2016: 18:15
Location: Hörsaal BIG 1 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Raf VANDERSTRAETEN, Ghent University, Belgium
In the early-modern era, science was conceived as universal/global science. Often its findings and observations were communicated in Latin, i.e. the lingua franca of early-modern science. The nineteenth- and twentieth-century expansion of science went along with a ‘nationalisation’ of science, with the use of national vernaculars and the genesis of national scientific communities. Sociology, as one of many academic disciplines, established itself in different ways in different national contexts in the last two centuries.

In certain respects, the dynamics of discipline formation and specialisation nowadays lead again to global networks of science. It would be unjustified to argue that the national level will soon become (or already is) a non-existent entity in the ‘world’ of science. In a range of respects, the social relevance of the national level has probably augmented in recent times. The dependence of scientific research on state finance has not decreased since the Second World War, while governments have also searched for new ways to increase their influence upon the academic world. However, we may predict that the increasingly global networks of scientific collaboration and communication will make it increasingly difficult to discern distinctive national traditions in disciplines, such as sociology.

Of special relevance in this regard is the rise of professional associations and journals with a ‘regional’ or global focus – such as the International Sociological Association and its journals. Also, several national – especially English-language – journals have become global ones (measured by the composition of their editorial boards, the nationalities of their authors and subscribers, or their impact factors). A network analysis of the publication and communication formats within journals such as International Sociology will allow us to shed some light on the characteristics of, and opportunities for, global sociology.