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Beyond Methodological Nationalism? Concepts of Nationhood in German Liberal Social Thought of the Weimar Years

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Chapter Summary

The thesis defended is that a generalized normative and contemporary relevance found for statements about German relations to "the West" in the writings of a milieu of broadly left-liberal intellectuals active during the years of the Weimar Republic and the last years of the Wilhelmine Empire. This chapter pinpoints some of the most relevant aspects of the early twentieth century German critique of dominant Western European or North Atlantic-centred narratives of global historical change in classical European social thought. Germany's problems were in some way Europe's problems reflected back to themselves, for Europe, like Germany, was itself something essentially spiritually non-unified, non-united, non-complete, essentially born of lack, even if it had yet fully to come to learn this truth. The chapter sets forth a number of objections to the concept of "methodological nationalism" as a fair criticism of German and general European sociological thinking of the early twentieth century.

Keywords: European social thought; German relations; methodological nationalism; Weimar Republic; Wilhelmine Empire



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