Vision and method in global historical sociology (George Lawson)

Vision and method in global historical sociology (George Lawson)

Historical sociology is a long-established interdisciplinary field concerned with incorporating temporality in the analysis of social processes. Global historical sociology examines the transnational and global features of these processes. It is premised on two interrelated dynamics: first, the global dynamics that enable the emergence, reproduction and breakdown of social forms; and second, the historical emergence, reproduction, and breakdown of transnational and global social forms. The first of these provides the “global”, the second constitutes the “historical sociology”. Over recent years, the “vision” of global historical sociology has come sharply into view – proponents have examined imperial modalities, the global dynamics of capitalist accumulation, the role of transnational revolutionary movements in fostering change within and across borders, and more. To date, however, the approach is yet to make the case for the specific criteria and strategies of explanation that follow from this agenda. This paper aims to fill that gap. It sets out a fourfold procedure for enacting global historical sociology: first, “follow the relations” across a boundary; second, track these transboundary relations as they unfold in and through time; third, examine the ways in which transboundary relations are patterned, forming “structural entanglements”; and fourth, carry out “entangled comparison” – the comparison of structural entanglements across multiple settings. In this way, the paper develops a portable procedure for global historical sociology that can be operationalized in a range of empirical issue-areas.

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Vision and method in global historical sociology:

Date & time

Fri 29 Apr 2022, 12–1pm



George Lawson (ANU)

Event series


Nick Cheesman


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