Methodological Nationalism
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Methodological Nationalism

Not to be confused with Methodological naturalism

In social science, Methodological Nationalism is an intellectual orientation and pattern in scholarly research that conceives of the nation-state as the sole unit of analysis or as a container for social processes. This concept has largely been developed by Andreas Wimmer and Nina Glick Schiller, who specifically define it as "the assumption that the nation/state/society is the natural social and political form of the modern world".[1] Methodological Nationalism has been identified in many social science subfields, such as anthropology, sociology, and the interdisciplinary field of migration studies.[2] Methodological Nationalism, as a practice within Social Science, has been further critiqued by scholars such as Saskia Sassen, who contends that the nation-state and its borders are an insufficient unit of analysis and that the national is at times the "terrains of the global".[3]

Three types of methodological nationalism

Per Andreas Wimmer and Nina Glick Schiller, there are three types of methodological nationalism in social science scholarship: ignoring or disregarding the importance of nationalism for modern societies, naturalization, and confining studies to geopolitical boundaries of a particular nation-state. These types may co-occur or occur separately. When they co-occur, they may reinforce each other.[4]

Methodological Nationalism and Migration Studies

Methodological Nationalism and its conception of nation-states has been a component of both contemporary and historical methodologies in migration studies, insofar as certain studies have adhered to it or diverged from its theoretical foundations. This adherence has been acknowledged or otherwise criticized in numerous studies.[5][6] Moreover, the historical prevalence of methodological nationalism within social science has been explored by scholarship which argues that many turn-of-the-century writings on globalization have "conflated the necessary conceptual critique of methodological nationalism with the empirical claim of the nation-state's diminishing relevance".[7]

On the other hand, research on transnationalism and transmigrants has contemporary examples of divergence and criticism of methodological nationalism as an enduring practice in scholarship. Recent studies in transnationalism have conceived of the nation-state as one agent in a complex relationship with many global actors.[8] Migration Studies that conceive of society as extending beyond national boundaries, then, sever this link between nation-state and society.

Research on transnational Latina motherhood has negotiated issues of the nation-state as well as transnationalism. The conceptual frameworks of power geometries, social location, and geographic scales is positioned to counteract the analytical tendency to fall back on methodological nationalism.[9][10]

Other scholarly research has combined transnational migration studies and conceptual frameworks such as coloniality of power to avoid methodological nationalism and better account for the intersecting transnational phenomena that constitutes the experiences of transmigrants and better explains the processes of transnational migration.[11][12]

Colonial Modernity and Methodological Nationalism

This video is of a lecture by Sujata Patel at University of Hyderabad (India), given on September 21, 2011 talking about effects of Methodological Nationalism in India. In this video, she discusses social behavior and the social effects of Methodological Nationalism:



  1. ^ Wimmer, Andreas; Schiller, Nina Glick. "Methodological nationalism and beyond: nation-state building, migration and the social sciences" (PDF). Global Networks 2. 2 (4): 301-334.
  2. ^ Wimmer, Andreas; Schiller, Nina Glick (2003). "Methodological Nationalism, the Social Sciences, and the Study of Migration: An Essay in Historical Epistemology". The International Migration Review. 37 (2): 576-610. JSTOR 30037750.
  3. ^ Sassen, Saskia. "The global inside the national A research agenda for sociology" (PDF).
  4. ^ Wimmer, Andreas; Schiller, Nina Glick (2003). "Methodological Nationalism, the Social Sciences, and the Study of Migration: An Essay in Historical Epistemology". The International Migration Review. 37 (2): 576-610. JSTOR 30037750.
  5. ^ Mayall, James (1993). Nationalism and international society (1. publ. ed.). Cambridge [England]: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0521389617.
  6. ^ Smith, Anthony D. (2001). Nationalism and modernism : a critical survey of recent theories of nations and nationalism (Reprinted. ed.). London: Routledge. ISBN 9780415063418.
  7. ^ Chernilo, Daniel (August 2011). "The critique of methodological nationalism". Thesis Eleven. 106 (1): 98-117. doi:10.1177/0725513611415789.
  8. ^ Quayson, Ato; Daswani, Girish (September 2013). A Companion to Diaspora and Transnationalism. Wiley-Blackwell. p. 600. ISBN 978-1-4051-8826-5.
  9. ^ Pessar, Patricia (June 1971). Transnational Migration: Bringing Gender in. Center for Migration Studies of New York.
  10. ^ Boehm, Deborah (Fall 2003). "For My Children:" Constructing Family and Navigating the State in the U.S.-MexicoTransnation. George Washington University for Ethnographic Research.
  11. ^ Mielants, Eric; Grosfoguel,, Ramón (2009). Cervantes-Rodríguez, Margarita (ed.). Caribbean migration to Western Europe and the United States essays on incorporation, identity, and citizenship. Philadelphia: Temple University Press. ISBN 9781592139569.CS1 maint: extra punctuation (link)
  12. ^ Patel, Sujata. "Colonial Modernity and Methodological Nationalism in Sociology of India". Missing or empty |url= (help)

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