Section on Global and Transnational Sociology

2012 Section Awards

Announcing the G&TS awards for 2012! The awards will be presented at our section reception at ASA on Friday, August 17th at 6:30 p.m. Many thanks to everybody who sent in nominations; and a very special thanks to our hard-working Awards Committee!

Best Book

Julian Go. 2012. Patterns of Empire: The British and American Empires, 1688 to the Present. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

Julian Go’s Patterns of Empire: The British and American Empires, 1688 to the Present impressively challenges the prevalent view that the American empire is unique and unlike the empire of the British hegemon that preceded it—indeed perhaps not properly termed an “empire” at all. It shows how the practices, policies, institutions and tend to dynamics of the American empire repeat those of the British one, right up to the recent era of economic decline, Middle Eastern intervention and general overextension. The work uses the comparative historical method with theoretical and empirical rigor, and is a good read.

Best Article (co-winners)

Colin Beck. 2011. “The World-Cultural Origins of Revolutionary Waves: Five Centuries of European Contention.” Social Science History 35:2.

and

Ho-fung Hung and Jaime Kucinskas. 2011. “Globalization and Global Inequality: Assessing the Impact of the Rise of China and India, 1980–2005.” American Journal of Sociology, 116:5.

Beck argues that revolutionary waves are both events of entire international systems and profoundly cultural phenomena. Thus, revolutionary waves occur during periods of rapid expansion in world culture as the creation and institutionalization of new political models and practices strains states, empowers oppositions and fractures elites. To substantiate these claims, he conducts multivariate analyses that look for the correspondence between a new indicator of world culture (generated from institutional and discursive measures) and revolutionary waves in Europe since the year 1495. The results suggest that revolutionary waves are positively associated with more rapid growth in world culture, as well as periods of hegemonic decline. The contribution lies in extending our models of the cultural side of the international system back further in time, as well as providing a systematic account of the transnational phenomenon of revolutionary waves.

Hung and Kucinskas look at whether global economic integration enlarges or reduces global inequality. Their analysis is based on an innovative strategy that combines change in average intra-national inequality and international inequality to assess the net change in global inequality in 1980-2005. They find that overall global inequality has been unambiguously decreasing, and that the global-inequality-reducing effect of globalization can be explained largely by the fact that the rise of China and India, two population and economic giants in the global economy, has been dragging down international inequality must faster than the rise of internal inequality within the two nations and elsewhere under globalization. But the study also projects that in the next two decades, global inequality is set to rise again, either when economic growth in China/India inevitably slows down or when either one of them inevitably passes the threshold of middle-income country. This means that the global-inequality-reducing effect of the rise of China and India is temporary, unless in the implausible scenario that the two countries’ stellar economic performance could be replicated in most other developing countries. So, in the long run, the rise of global inequality since the nineteenth-century industrial revolution is not likely to be reversed significantly by globalization.

Best Scholarly Publication by a Graduate Student

Anju Mary Paul. 2011. “Stepwise International Migration: A Multistage Migration Pattern for the Aspiring Migrant.” American Journal of Sociology 116 (6): 1842-86

Based on data from interviews with 95 Filipino domestic workers in the Philippines, Hong Kong, and Singapore, this article documents the strategies that migrants use to chart and navigate a stepwise migration trajectory. Specifically, Paul shows how migrants with limited options use successive overseas employment opportunities to accumulate human and financial capital that allows them to move between countries en route to the ultimate objective of (often) legal entry into their preferred destination countries. By showing how this pattern of stepwise migration is enabled by the development of a transnational labor market in particular occupations, Paul makes an important contribution to our understanding of immigration as a global, not just international, phenomenon.

Best Work by an International Scholar

Justin Rosenberg. 2010. “Basic Problems in the Theory of Combined and Uneven Development. Part II: Unevenness and Political Multiplicity.” Cambridge Review of International Affairs 23(1): 165-89.

This article interrogates the concept of “international” using the idea of ‘uneven and combined development’ (U&CD). First, a depth model is constructed, comparing different ways of linking uneven development with international relations. Thus far, it turns out, these ways have all presupposed the fact of political multiplicity, rather than explaining it. In search of explanation, the article turns, secondly, to the compelling historical sociological argument of Barry Buzan and Richard Little. This locates the origins of geopolitics in the late prehistoric shift from hunter-gatherer to settled agricultural existence, together with associated processes of social differentiation and proto-state formation. Buzan and Little’s explanation appears at first to pre-empt the need for the concept of U&CD. Yet closer inspection reveals that unevenness and combination play a key role in their empirical account without, however, being theorized. The third step of the argument therefore seeks to show how these are necessary parts of the process of social change which Buzan and Little describe. And in this way it emerges that the origins of ‘the international’ do indeed lie in the uneven and combined character of historical development.