Each day, the news vividly depicts how social life crosses, alters, transcends and even transforms borders and boundaries. The destruction of the World Trade on September 11, 2001, one of the most potent symbols of cross-border western capitalism, by members of the Al Qaeda terrorist network is perhaps the most powerful example of the transnational nature of todays world. These ostensibly novel transnational phenomena and dynamics have clear historical analogues and antecedents. Indeed, human social formations and processes have always crossed borders to a significant degree. Even contemporary nation-states and the nation-state system have been transnationally constituted and shaped over time and space in powerful ways. These forms and processes of transnationality are the focus of a burgeoning yet fragmented body of scholarship particularly across sub-fields of sociology and closely related social science disciplines. But scholars who produce this work generally treat their efforts as unconnected to each other and work on them in isolation. There is thus both tremendous value in and potential for constructing a sociology of transnationalism. In this paper, we develop the four intellectual foundations of this field. These foundations offer a heuristically rich and compelling set of empirical, methodological, theoretical, philosophical, and normative ideas and options for scholarship that cast new light on a range of old sociological concerns such as power, inequality, culture, identity, organizations, and governance.
This publication is Hauser Center Working Paper No. 24. The Hauser Center Working Paper Series was launched during the summer of 2000. The Series enables the Hauser Center to share with a broad audience important works-in-progress written by Hauser Center scholars and researchers.