American Sociological Association

Review Essays: A Comparative Approach to Social Differences

Rogers Brubaker is well known in the sociology of race and ethnicity for the critique of “groupist” tendencies in his now-classic Ethnicity without Groups. In Grounds for Difference, Brubaker extends his comparative and constructionist lens beyond ethnicity; he argues that in recent decades sociological theories of social difference have been challenged by the return to scholarly and popular prominence of three age-old social forces: inequality, biology, and religion. A word of warning—Grounds for Difference does not even attempt to integrate its separate efforts at synthesizing the three literatures on social stratification, social studies of science, and nationalism. However, Brubaker’s underlying position is clear: the idea of nation, especially the normative expectation of local homogeneity amid global plurality, pervades and motivates our understandings of social difference.


Jiannbin Lee Shiao





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