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Schillmeier, Michael (2009): The social, cosmopolitanism and beyond. In: History of the Human Sciences, Vol. 22, No. 2: pp. 87-109




First, this article will outline the metaphysics of ‘the social’ that implicitly and explicitly connects the work of lassical and contemporary cosmopolitan sociologists as different as Durkheim, Weber, Beck and Luhmann. In a second step, I will show that the cosmopolitan outlook of classical sociology is driven by exclusive differences. In understanding human affairs, both classical sociology and contemporary cosmopolitan sociology reflect a very modernist outlook of epistemological, conceptual, methodological and disciplinary rigour that separates the cultural sphere from the natural objects of concern. I will suggest that classical sociology – in order to be cosmopolitan – is forced (1) to exclude non-social and non-human objects as part of its conceptual and methodological rigour, and (2) consequently and methodologically to rule out the non-social and the non-human. Cosmopolitan sociology imagines ‘the social’ as a global, universal explanatory device to conceive and describe the non-social and non-human. In a third and final step the article draws upon the work of the French sociologist Gabriel Tarde and offers a possible alternative to the modernist social and cultural other-logics of social sciences. It argues for a inclusive conception of ‘the social’ that gives the non-social and non-human a cosmopolitan voice as well.