Human Interconnectedness

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Kenneth Waltz’s structural realism abstracts the international political domain from other spheres of social interaction to explain recurrent patterns of competition and conflict across the millennia. There are similarities between the structural realist ‘grand narrative’ and the process-sociological approach developed by Norbert Elias. But the latter supported ‘high-level synthesis’ in the social sciences in order to understand how relations between material, ideational and emotional forces have contributed to the growth of human interconnectedness. The analysis contended that one of the purposes of the social sciences is to increase knowledge of how humans can gain control of the processes that bind them together in global networks of interdependence. Elias was opposed to partisan inquiry such as Kant’s notion of a universal history with a cosmopolitan intent. But a shared emphasis on how humans have developed the capacity to cause distant harm reveals how future grand narratives can combine the analysis of the growth of interconnectedness with the ethical argument for greater transnational solidarity.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)481-497
JournalInternational Relations
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 01 Sept 2009


  • cosmopolitan legitimacy
  • Norbert Elias
  • global interdependence
  • grand narratives
  • harm in world politics
  • Kantian cosmopolitanism
  • process sociology
  • structural realism/neo-realism
  • transnational solidarity
  • world history


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