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Multinational firms unavoidably exert influence over politics through power that is generated by both structure and process. While both political economy and management scholars address international firms, neither field has an adequate understanding of the reciprocal relationship between multinational firms and geopolitical systems. The links between multinational firms form a distinct type of international system for the private sector – one that is simultaneously enmeshed in geopolitics and international markets even as it is also autonomous from them. The scholarly literature on the power of business in politics has demonstrated how influence derives from instrumental agency as well as structural influence, but it has taken an unnecessarily restrictive view of politics and an overly materialist theory of power. Politics are about much more than government policies. In this paper I propose an analytical framework for understanding the multinational firm as a set of relationships. I then apply one key element of that approach – the relationships among firms as a direct source of geopolitical outcomes – to the natural gas trade of Eurasia in three eras that span nearly 40 years. I conclude that the influence of business on a broader understanding of politics – and not just policies – should be central to the study of international and comparative political economy.
The concept of identity has become increasingly prominent in the social sciences and humanities. Analysis of the development of social identities is an important focus of scholarly research, and scholars using social identities as the building blocks of social, political, and economic life have attempted to account for a number of discrete outcomes by treating identities as causal factors. The dominant implication of the vast literature on identity is that social identities are among the most important social facts of the world in which we live. Abdelal, Herrera, Johnston, and McDermott have brought together leading scholars from a variety of disciplines to consider the conceptual and methodological challenges associated with treating identity as a variable, offer a synthetic theoretical framework, and demonstrate the possibilities offered by various methods of measurement. The book represents a collection of empirically-grounded theoretical discussions of a range of methodological techniques for the study of identities.
For the past two decades, the attention given to the concept of “identity” – both in the social sciences and in the world at large – has continued to rise. Multiple disciplines and subfields are producing an expanding literature on the definition, meaning, and development of ethnic, national, linguistic, religious, gender, class, and other identities and their roles in political, social, and economic outcomes. The ubiquity of identity-based scholarship suggests an emerging realization that identities, as Rogers Smith (2002: 302) has observed, are “among the most normatively significant and behaviorally consequential aspects of politics,” yet the literature has remained diffuse. That is, despite this flurry of activity, the social sciences have not yet witnessed a commensurate rise in definitional consensus on the concept of identity.
The intense interest in scholarship on identity, as well as the many kinds of studies this fascination has spawned, has unfortunately helped undermine the conceptual clarity of identity as a variable. The wide variety of conceptualizations and definitions of identity has led some to conclude that identity is so elusive, slippery, and amorphous that it will never prove to be a useful variable for the social sciences. Rogers Brubaker and Frederick Cooper (2000) have even argued, in the most important critique of identity scholarship to date, that it is time to let go of the concept of identity altogether and to move beyond a scholarly language that they suggest is hopelessly vague and has obscured more than it has revealed.
This volume outlines a variety of definitions and methodologies for studying social identities in a diverse set of contexts within American politics, comparative politics, and international relations. As such, we hope it will serve as a primer on the analysis and methodology of identity scholarship for a wide range of interested researchers. Political scientists have long enjoyed access to many excellent guides to mainstream theories and methods, yet those wanting to do research on social identities have had to synthesize enormous literatures on their own, with no practical guide to the alternatives they might employ in their scholarship. This volume aims to be such a road map, both analytically and methodologically. The chapters include a broad array of definitions as well as methodological options available for scholarly research on identity, including methods currently in use and some promising newer ones.
The chapters of this volume demonstrate concretely how to conduct identity research using several different methodological options. Each chapter shows how the ideas that underlie identity are applied in the context of individual research and what sorts of insights such projects can yield. In this way, the combined chapters create a whole greater than the sum of its parts; by aggregating the various specific methodological approaches, the text provides a coherent basis for the general examination of identity in the study of political science.