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Understanding the Social: Cosmopolitanism and Gabriel Tarde’s Cosmopolitics

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Chapter Summary

This chapter outlines the modernist metaphysics of "the social" that implicitly and explicitly connects the work of classical and contemporary cosmopolitan sociologists. It suggests that classical sociology, in order to be cosmopolitan, is forced to exclude non-social and non-human objects as part of its conceptual and methodological rigor. Thereby, cosmopolitan sociology imagines "the social" as a global, universal explanatory device to conceive and describe the non-social and non-human. However, with the work of Gabriel Tarde classical sociology already offers a possible alternative to the modernist cosmopolitanism of social sciences. The French sociologist outlines a cosmopolitical reading of "the social". He argues for an inclusive conception of "the social" that radically differs from the various versions of an exclusivist perspective of "the social" or "society" provided by classical cosmopolitan sociology. For Tarde, "the social" is not the explanatory device to describe and make sense of the non-social and non-human.

Keywords: cosmopolitan; explanatory device; Gabriel Tarde classical sociology



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