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Thinking Globally: Reassessing the Fields of Law, Politics and Economics in the US Academy

Eve Darian-Smith
Published Online: 2017-08-15 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/ngs-2017-0012


In the United States, students of law, politics and economics are primarily trained to think in terms of state-centric analytical frameworks. This essay argues that this training is anachronistic and does not adequately prepare students for the complex geopolitics of the 21st century. Of course, not all scholarship in these disciplines can be characterized in this way since each discipline has its own internal disputes and scholarly innovations. That being said, a mainstream state-centric approach dominates the literature and the curriculum in most law, politics and economics departments. The first part of the essay describes the rise of law schools and the establishing of political science and economics disciplines in the late 19th century. It explores the implications of these disciplines’ claim to do “scientific” research. It argues that this claim continues to bind the disciplines to a state-centric framework which in turn provides obstacles to developing new theories and methods.

Keywords: state-centric; social sciences; methodological nationalism; United States; education; global studies

Thanks to Philip McCarty for his insightful comments on an earlier draft and my colleague Mark Juergensmeyer whose edited volume Thinking Globally: A Global Studies Reader (2014) inspired the title of this essay.


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About the article

Published Online: 2017-08-15

Published in Print: 2017-12-20

Citation Information: New Global Studies, Volume 11, Issue 3, Pages 243–263, ISSN (Online) 1940-0004, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/ngs-2017-0012.

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