Historical Social Research

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Helmut Kuzmics, Dieter Reicher & Jason Hughes: State, Emotion, Authority, and National Habitus. State-Related Problems of Our Time and Methodological Discourses in Sociology and Historical Sociology.  [Abstract]

The central concerns of this HSR Special Issue – emotion, authority, and national character – are arguably among the most pressing issues facing social researchers in the current geo-political context. By contrast to the global political climate of the early 1990s – when the Eastern bloc was collapsing, when Europe was still in the euphoria of its expansion, and when a largely US-fuelled renewed wave of globalisation had not yet met with substantial nation-state resistance– the past few years have seen a growing number and range of counterreactions that are often characterised as undemocratic or even authoritarian. This article deals with two main topics. First, we like to stress the ongoing importance of the nation-state despite its analytical neglect by many social scientists since the 1990s. The paper discusses the weakness of concepts like “national identity” or of normative notions of “nationalism” that are commonly used in order to understand prevailing national we-feelings in the modern world. Instead the authors suggest focusing on historical long-term processes and on the various relationships between the formation of “survival units” like states and the make-up of the personality structure of its members in different nation-states. It will be argued that Norbert Elias’s concept of “national habitus” may be helpful in approaching these relationships. Thus, this approach will be helpful also for better understanding we-feelings in modern state-societies. Furthermore, methodological and theoretical problems that are related to the concept of “national habitus” will be discussed from the viewpoint of Historical Sociology. Second, this article summarises the arguments of the contributions that are assembled in this Special Issue. By doing so, these articles will be grouped in two different ways. The first type of grouping is related to the common characteristics of arguments found in all of the papers. They cover an area comprising Western, East Central, and Southeastern European countries, the Middle East, the US, and Japan. The second type of grouping is concerned with dissent in their approaches and arguments.

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