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Processes of social flourishing and their liminal collapse: elements to a genealogy of globalization
John Wiley & Sons Ltd
This article aims at exploring a long-term historical perspective on which contemporary globalization can be more meaningfully situated. A central problem with established approaches to globalization is that they are even more presentist than the literature on modernization was. Presentism not only means the ignoring of history, but also the unreﬂective application to history of concepts taken from the study of the modern world. In contrast, it is argued that contemporary globalization is not a unique development, but rather is a concrete case of a historical type. Taking as its point of departure the spirit, rather than the word, of Max Weber, this article extends the scope of sociological investigation into archaeological evidence. Having a genealogical design and introducing the concept of ‘liminality’, the article approaches the modern process of globalization through reconstructing the internal dynamics of another type of historical change called ‘social ﬂourishing’. Taking up the Weberian approach continued by Eisenstadt in his writings on ‘axial age’, it moves away from situations of crisis as reference point, shifting attention to periods of revival by introducing the term ‘epiphany’. Through the case of early Mesopotamia, it shows how social ﬂourishing can be transmogriﬁed into globalizing growth, gaining a new perspective concerning the kind of ‘animating spirit’ that might have driven the shift from Renaissance to Reformation, the rise of modern colonialism, or contemporary globalization. More generally, it will retrieve the long-term historical background of the axial age and demonstrate the usefulness and importance of archaeological evidence for sociology.
Axial age , Comparative historical sociology , Max Weber , Genealogy , Liminality , Religious experience
Szakolczai, A. (2016) 'Processes of social flourishing and their liminal collapse: elements to a genealogy of globalization', British Journal of Sociology, 67(3), pp. 435–455. doi:10.1111/1468-4446.12213
© 2016, London School of Economics and Political Science. This is the peer reviewed version of the following article: Szakolczai, A. (2016) 'Processes of social flourishing and their liminal collapse: elements to a genealogy of globalization', British Journal of Sociology, 67(3), pp. 435–455, which has been published in final form at 10.1111/1468-4446.12213. This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Wiley Terms and Conditions for Self-Archiving.