Making and Remaking the Transnational: Of Boundaries, Social Spaces and Social Mechanisms

Thomas Faist

  1. Three Generations of Transnational Scholarship

We can delineate three generations of transnational scholarship. The first generation, flourishing in the late 1960s and 1970s, asked about the emergence, role and impact of large-scale, cross-border organizations. This literature, steeped in the field of International Relations, focused its attention on the interdependence between states, resulting from the existence and operations of powerful non-state actors, such as multinational companies1. Curiously, the interest in this transnational approach quickly disappeared with the onset of debates on globalization from the late 1970s onwards. Perhaps this demise was related to the fact that globalization studies re-centered the interest to how national political economies were reshaped by ever-growing capital flows across borders. Much more than later generations of the trans-national literature, globalization studies emphasized the top-down model of societal transformation.

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