Archive for November, 2012

Kurdish issues!

The end of the 68-day-hunger strike among Kurdish prisoners in Turkey…



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‘Work in Progress’ Sociological Staff Seminar

We are very pleased to announce that the first meeting of Work in Progress: Sociological PG-staff Seminar will take place on Wednesday 21st November 11am – 1pm in the 6th Floor Common Room of the Chrystal Macmillan Building, 15a George Square.

Undergraduates, postgraduates and staff are all welcome to join us for this free event to discuss work in progress of both PGs and staff members. For anyone who wishes to stay after the seminar for an informal chat, we will have some nibbles.

Speakers at the event:

*Ceren Sengul – PhD Project on the linguistic policies of Turkey and Israel towards their minorities.
*Hugo Gorringe – Untouchability Uncut: Caste Discrimination in the 21st Century
*Isabella Kasselstrand and Mor Kandlik Eltanani – Church Affiliation and Trust in the State: Survey Data Evidence from Four Nordic Countries

Chairing the session: Tirion Seymour

For abstracts please see http://www.sociology.ed.ac.uk/events/other_events/2012_2013/work_in_progress_sociological_pg-staff_seminar

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2012 Catalonia Elections: Pre-Election Report

An interesting pre-election report posted today in The Monkey Cage blog. The author is Duke University political scientist Laia Balcells:


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Michael Mann



In our reading of Michael Mann’s texts it seems to us that he implicitly conceptualise the origin and meaning of the nation dialectally; both as consequence of the increasing scope in state functions, and as the basis from which the state is created.

In Social Power II, Mann, writing from an euro-centric point of view, describes the nation as evolving out of states’ responses to military and industrial needs in the 18th and 19th century. Thus, increased militarism created inevitable demands for funding and conscriptions from citizens, who in return demanded political influence. This pressure for representation was partly cross-class and contributed to the development of nations as real (Mann 1993; 730-1). The industrialisation, the industrial phase of capitalism and its class struggles, furthermore, played a vital role for the birth of nations. Expanded production created a need for improving the infrastructure, communication lines and education, and states responded by undertaking these civilian tasks of social organisation. The improved infrastructure enhanced the density of social interaction within its territories, consequently making social interaction nationally homogenous (Mann 1993; 730). These developments continued in the 20th century:

During the 20th century, welfare and fiscal policies redistributed resources between regions, age groups and classes, reducing inequalities and further solidifying the nation.

                                                                                                                       (Mann 1994)

Mann specifies three types of nations evolving out of the process; State reinforcing, state creating, state subverting exemplified in England, Germany, the Austrian lands respectively. The national outcome of the process depended in turn on how contested the nation was within the territory in which the social homogenization took place.

The second interpretation of nation is the nation as state creating. This is briefly mentioned in Social Power II, but is more significant in Mann’s The Dark-Side of Democracy. Here the emphasis in terming the nation is put on the political dimensions:

A nation is a self-defined ethnic group, which also has political consciousness. That is, a nation defines itself as sharing a common culture and history (a weaker version of ‘descent’) which claims collective political rights in a given territory… A nation-state results where such collective political rights are possessed by ‘its own’ sovereign state.

(Mann 2004;15-6)

I simple terms, the state creates nations within its society, and then nations have separate concerns and so create a separate state, which is reflective of their concerns. From this follows Mann’s argument that the creation of nationalism evolves from the nation, through popular representation.

Q. Both Gellner and Mann emphasise the importance of the Industrialisation in creating nations and nationalism, however they differ when Mann emphasises the role of the state in this development. Which theory is most convincing?


The role of the state, from Mann’s top down idea, is to mould a specific identity for its population. He discusses ethnic cleansing using several different levels ranging to the most extreme form of cleansing, genocide. In this way, the state forms a nation through assimilation and through eliminating specific characteristics in order to create one unified homogeneous nation. However, integration of various ethnic groups within a single state does not often include genocide. Some self-defined nations do not seek their own state, just certain rights within the current state boundaries (Mann, 2004 p.

You may find the table useful:

Q. Are there any current examples that either support or challenge Mann’s argument on ethnic cleansing? For instance

–       Kosovo, Libya, Iraq, Sudan, Rwanda


Classes missing ability to overcome the nations’ borders as Marx suggested, are significant in Mann’s theorising comparable to what we have met so far. As opposed to Marx’s theory, the proletariat was unable to unite transnationally. Class was not a part of the main identity, as people were organised in class and in sections and segments. (Mann, 2004 p.724-25) Organisation took a national form mainly because of citizenship, which resolved the class struggles, (Mann, 1988 p.159) which strengthened the cohesion on the national rather than transnational level.

Q. Can class struggles be mitigated by shared national identity?

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