THE POLITICAL THEORY WORKSHOP PRESENTS
Transnational Identity and Historical Development
Dabney Waring, Political Science, UConn
with commentary by Justin Theodra, Political Science, UConn
November 5, 2021 from 3:00-4:30p.m. EST, VIRTUAL
The structure-agency debate has long been central to social theory and remains a site of controversy. This paper makes two main interventions in this debate. First, expanding the critical realist approach to social ontology, it argues that group identities can be fruitfully theorized as structures – “collectivities” – that generate causal effects. Collectivities, as socio-symbolic structures, cut across and interact with states and societies, socio-material structures with their own causal effects. This formulation offers a richer account of global social space, displacing the domestic/international distinction that defines traditional statist frameworks of International Relations as well as many sociological and constructivist approaches. Second, it argues that, even with this expansion, there remains a theoretical void within social ontology, an intermediary gap between the natural/physiological and social structures that overdetermine individuals from “below” and “above.” Although it has long been rejected, ignored, or theoretically bracketed in a liberal conception of the subject, it argues that social theorists need a better account of the nexus that links natural and social structures, i.e., the psyche, and its general causal significance.
Dabney Waring is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Political Science at the University of Connecticut, Storrs. His research interests include IR theory, social and political theory, critical realism, and transcendental materialism.
With generous support from the UConn Humanities Institute.
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