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Tönnies Today: A Living Legacy in the Sociology of Globalization and Globality

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Chapter Summary

This chapter shows that cosmopolitan sociological practice today can be founded upon, and can draw inspiration from, the work of Tönnies. The dusty old stereotypes of the man and his work should be replaced by an appreciation of two key facts. First, he endeavoured to take the "world as a whole", which the author understands to be a hallmark of cosmopolitan or global sociology, as a central unit of analysis, rather than the nation-state, as Beck might allege. Second, within and through that general framework, he proposes an account of emergent, planet-spanning forces which offers a significant alternative to Marx's analysis of globally triumphant capitalism. Focussing on Tönnies' account of planet-spanning Gesellschaft furnishes us with an alternative, classically-inspired analysis of the genesis of world-level cosmopolitical conditions which, while beginning from economic processes, regards the latter in ways which diverge notably from Marxian political economy.

Keywords: cosmopolitan sociological practice; global sociology; Marxian political economy; Tönnies; triumphant capitalism



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