World Society and the Nation-State
In their article, World Society and the Nation-State, Meyer, Boli, Thomas and Ramirez argue that culturally, a state’s cultural orientation is not a function of its historical or political nature but a derivative of the state’s interaction with and belonging to the wider society of states. Through rigorous associational processes, that override rigid nation-state conceptual features like sovereignty and nationalism, nation-states interact with the broader society of states, which presents the nation-states with new cultural orientations. The authors of this article argue that while it is true that states have their own domestic, unique cultural bedrocks, these become immaterial as states, by reacting to dynamism and changes in the society of states, adopt a global culture.
Through a theoretical deconstruction of the realist school, the authors of the article employ macro-phenomenological theoretical approach, which posits that the state is a cultural social construct that emanates from systemic interaction with the international system/society of states. Resultantly, states thus culturally constructed by the society of states acquire isomorphic tendencies that include the near-standard adoption of several cultures and codes of conduct like human rights, use of currency, respect of international law. Consensus on and adoption of an international culture thus created results in cultural statelessness in which international cultures are shared by all nationalities whether Japanese or Norwegian.
However, while this article presents a good treatise on the macro-phenomenological development of states’ culture, it can be criticized on the ground that it does not sufficiently address the issues of cultural specificity that still defines states’ cultural orientation. Language, dressing, as well as political systems that originate from specific state-defined contextual settings increasingly find their way into the society of state’s culture. This state-driven, cultural development is exemplified by increasing appreciation of practices like Yoga, which is oriental in its origins but is increasingly being introduced and appreciated in the broader society of states framework.
Moreover, the article argues that cultural controversies that arise from the appreciation of world culture are indications of the strength of macro-phenomenological theory instead of its failures. This undermines the principle of falsification and it becomes difficult to prove or disprove the relevance of macro-phenomenological theory advanced in the article.
Meyer, John, et al. “World Society and the Nation-State”. American Journal of Sociology 103(1), (1997), pp. 144-181.