Islands in the stream: revisiting methodological nationalism under conditions of globalization

Bailey, Nicholas and Winchester, Nik (2012). Islands in the stream: revisiting methodological nationalism under conditions of globalization. Sociology, 46(4) pp. 712–727.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/0038038511425563

Abstract

Reference to the sovereign nation-state has traditionally been held to lie at the heart of the conceptualisation of inter-state relations in social scientific discourse. Recent debates have sought to problematise the centrality of this concept, particularly under the banner of globalisation. Specifically, it has been argued that contemporary practices have weakened national boundaries thereby undermining the effectiveness of state actors and the relevance and explanatory value of the national. In this paper we examine the maritime industry as a ‘critical case’, and demonstrate how in an extensively globalised context the national understood as legitimate authority, grounded in territory, is still necessary to understand certain key processes. We present a series of cases in which the normal, smooth operation of shipping is disturbed, in order to reveal operative practice. Our claim is that methodological nationalism continues to be a legitimate perspective even in an extensively globalised context.

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