Advertisement

Language, ethnicity, and the nation-state: on Max Weber’s conception of “imagined linguistic community”

Article
  • 68 Downloads

Abstract

Methodological nationalism in sociological theory is unfit for the current globalized era, and should be discarded. In light of this contention, the present article discusses Max Weber’s view of language as a way to relativize the frame of the national society. While a “linguistic turn” in sociology since the 1960s has assumed that the sharing of language—linguistic community—stands as an intersubjective foundation for understanding of meaning, Weber saw linguistic community as constructed. From Weber’s rationalist, subjectivist, individualist viewpoint, linguistic community was a result of social actions, not a prior entity as assumed by German metaphysical organicism (and historicist holism). Indeed, Central Europe in Weber’s era was a battlefield of linguistic nationalism(s); in contrast to the national societies of the Cold War period, national borders were unstable and ultimately the multiethnic empires of the region were dismantled after World War I into ethnolinguistic nation-states. Experience of this contemporary reality brought Weber to the core of the relationship between language and politics: A language community is an imaginary one demarcated not by language itself but by conscious opposition against outsiders, with monolingual contexts within borders created artificially by homogenizing policies like linguistic standardization and national education—the first modernity of language. In this way, Weber felt, language can be a means to domination.

Keywords

Anglicization First modernity Interpretative sociology Methodological nationalism National society Sociology of language 

Notes

Acknowledgments

An earlier version of this article was first presented under the title “Imagined Linguistic Community: Max Weber and His View of Language” at the July 2016 international conference of the Research Committee 08 (History of Sociology) of the International Sociological Association, held at Warsaw University, Poland. I appreciate the insightful comments of the participants at that conference, as well as those of the audience at my guest lecture at the University of Klagenfurt (Austria). In particular, I am much grateful to Dr. Christian Dayé and Dr. Matthias Duller for their kind support. In addition, I would like to thank Professor Dr. Hubert Knoblauch and my other colleagues at the Institute for Sociology, Technical University of Berlin (Germany). During my research stay there, they gave useful suggestions at my lectures at the Research Workshop of General Sociology, as well as in our everyday conversations. I also thank the reviewers and editors of Theory and Society for their advice on the article. This work was supported by JSPS KAKENHI Grant Number 16K04035.

References

  1. Anderson, B. (1991). Imagined communities: Reflections on the origin and spread of nationalism. Revised edition. London: Verso.Google Scholar
  2. Auer, P. (2005a). The construction of linguistic borders and the linguistic construction of borders. In M. Filppula, J. Klemola, M. Palander, & E. Penttilä (Eds.), Dialects across borders: Selected papers from the 11th International Conference on Methods in Dialectology (Methods XI), Joensuu, August 2002 (pp. 3–30). Amsterdam: John Benjamins.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Auer, P. (2005b). Europe’s sociolinguistic unity, or: A typology of European dialect/standard constellations. In N. Delbecque, J. van der Auwera, & D. Geeraerts (Eds.), Perspectives on variation: Sociolinguistic, historical, comparative (pp. 7–42). Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.Google Scholar
  4. Barbour, S. ([2000] 2007a). Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Luxembourg: The total coincidence of nations and speech communities? In S. Barbour & C. Carmichael (Eds.), Language and nationalism in Europe (pp. 151–167). New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  5. Barbour, S. ([2000] 2007b). Nationalism, language, Europe. In S. Barbour & C. Carmichael (Eds.), Language and nationalism in Europe (pp. 1–17). New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  6. Beck, U. (1999). World risk society. Cambridge: Polity Press.Google Scholar
  7. Beck, U. ([2002] 2009). Macht und Gegenmacht im globa1en Zeitalter: Neue weltpolitische Ökonomie. Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp.Google Scholar
  8. Berger, P. L., & Luckmann, T. ([1966] 1989). The social construction of reality: A treatise in the sociology of knowledge. New York: Anchor Books.Google Scholar
  9. Berger, P. L., Berger, B., & Kellner, H. ([1973] 1974). The homeless mind: Modernization and consciousness. New York: Random House.Google Scholar
  10. Billig, M. ([1995] 2014). Banal nationalism. London: Sage.Google Scholar
  11. Bloomfield, L. ([1935] 1965). Language. Revised edition. London: George Allen & Unwin.Google Scholar
  12. Bolz, N. (2001). Weltkommunikation. Munich: Wilhelm Fink.Google Scholar
  13. Brubaker, R. (2015). Migration, membership, and the nation-state. In Grounds for difference (pp. 131–144). Cambridge: Harvard University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Bruun, H. H., & Whimster, S. (Eds.) (2012a). Max Weber: Collected methodological writings. Translated by H. H. Bruun. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  15. Bruun, H. H., & Whimster, S. (2012b). Glossary. In Bruun & Whimster (Vol. 2012a, pp. 474–501).Google Scholar
  16. Bush, G. H. W. ([1990] 1991). Public papers of the Presidents of the United States: George Bush, 1990 (Book 1). Washington: Federal Register Division, National Archives and Records Service, General Services Administration.Google Scholar
  17. Calvet, L.-J. ([1974] 2002). Linguistique et colonialisme. Paris: Editions Payot & Rivages.Google Scholar
  18. Corder, P. S. ([1973] 1993). Introducing applied linguistics. Harmondsworth: Penguin Books.Google Scholar
  19. Coulmas, F. (1985). Sprache und Staat: Studien zur Sprachplanung und Sprachpolitik. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Crawford, J. (1992). Hold your tongue: Bilingualism and the politics of “English Only”. Massachusetts: Addison-Wesley.Google Scholar
  21. Dann, O. (1996). Nation und Nationalismus in Deutschland 1770–1990. 3rd, revised and expanded edition. Munich: C. H. Beck.Google Scholar
  22. Deutsch, K. W. ([1942] 1968). The trend of European nationalism: The language aspect. In J. A. Fishman (Ed.) Readings in the sociology of language ((1968, pp. 598–606). The Hague: Mouton.Google Scholar
  23. Fitzi, G. (2004). Max Webers politisches Denken. Konstanz: UVK Verlagsgesellschaft.Google Scholar
  24. Gellner, E. (1983). Nations and nationalism. Oxford: Blackwell.Google Scholar
  25. Giddens, A. (1991). Modernity and self-identity: Self and society in the late modern age. Cambridge: Polity Press.Google Scholar
  26. Gordon, M. M. (1964). Assimilation in American life: The role of race, religion, and national origins. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  27. Gumperz, J. J. ([1962] 1968). Types of linguistic communities. In J. A. Fishman (Ed.) Readings in the sociology of language (1968, pp. 460–472). The Hague: Mouton.Google Scholar
  28. Habermas, J. (1981). Theorie des kommunikativen Handelns, Bd. 1: Handlungsrationalität und gesellschaftliche Rationalisierung, Bd. 2: Zur Kritik der funktionalistischen Vernunft. Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp.Google Scholar
  29. Habermas, J. (1984). Vorstudien und Ergänzungen zur Theorie des kommunikativen Handelns. Frankfurt a.M.: Suhrkamp.Google Scholar
  30. Habermas, J. (1985). Der Philosophische Diskurs der Moderne. Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp.Google Scholar
  31. Habermas, J. ([1992] 1998). Faktizität und Geltung: Beiträge zur Diskurstheorie des Rechts und des demokratischen Rechtsstaats. Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp.Google Scholar
  32. Hacking, I. (1975). Why does language matter to philosophy? Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Hagen, W. W. (1980). Germans, Poles, and Jews: The nationality conflict in the Prussian East, 1772–1914. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  34. Hobsbawm, E. J. ([1983] 2012). Mass-producing traditions: Europe, 1870‑1914. In E. Hobsbawm & T. Ranger (Eds.), The invention of tradition (2012 pp. 263‑307). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  35. Hughes, S. H. (1958). Consciousness and society: The reconstruction of European social thought 1890–1930. New York: Alfred A. Knopf.Google Scholar
  36. Isajiw, W. W. (1974). Definitions of ethnicity. Ethnicity, 1, 111–124.Google Scholar
  37. Ito, S. (2002). Doitsu no nagai jūkyū seiki [The long 19th century in Germany]. Tokyo: Aoki Shoten.Google Scholar
  38. Kamusella, T. D. I. (2001). Language as an instrument of nationalism in Central Europe. Nations and Nationalism, 7(2), 235–251.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Kamusella, T. D. I. (2011). Language in Central Europe’s history and politics: From the rule of cuius regio, eius religio to the national principle of cuius regio, eius lingua? Journal of Globalization Studies, 2(1), 41–57.Google Scholar
  40. Keeler, L. (2008). Linguistic reconstruction and the construction of nationalist-era Chinese linguistics. Language & Communication, 28, 344–362.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Kelly-Holmes, H. (2012). Multilingualism and the media. In M. Martin-Jones, A. Blackledge, & A. Creese (Eds.), The Routledge handbook of multilingualism (pp. 333–346). New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  42. Kibata, Y. (2014). Nijusseiki no rekishi [The history of the 20th century]. Tokyo: Iwanami Shoten.Google Scholar
  43. Kimura, G. C. (2007). Gengo ni okeru “shizen” to “zin’i”: Setsumei gengo kara bunseki taisyō e [“Natureco” kaj “artefariteco” en lingvoj: Kial tiu dualismo ne utilas por socilingvistiko/ “Naturalness” and “artificiality” in languages: Why this dualism does not serve for sociolinguistics]. Kotoba to shakai: Tagengo shakai kenkyū [Language and Society: Studies on Multilingual Societies], 10, 120–135.Google Scholar
  44. Konno, H. (2003). Makkusu vēbā to pōrando mondai: Viruherumu-ki doitsu nashonarizumu kenkyū josetsu [Max Weber and the Polish question: A study of German nationalism in the Wilhelmine era]. Tokyo: Tōkyō Daigaku Shuppankai [University of Tokyo Press]. (= (2004). Max Weber und die polnische Frage (1892–1920): Eine Betrachtung zum liberalen Nationalismus im wilhelminischen Deutschland, Baden-Baden: Nomos).Google Scholar
  45. Konno, H. (2007). Makkusu vēbā: Aru seiō-ha doitsu nashonarisuto no shōgai [Max Weber: A biography of a Westernised German nationalist]. Tokyo: Tōkyō Daigaku Shuppankai [University of Tokyo Press].Google Scholar
  46. Konno, H. (2009). Taminzoku kokka puroisen no yume: “Ao no kokusaiha” to yōroppa chitsujo [The longing for multinational Prussia]. Nagoya: Nagoya Daigaku Shuppankai [University of Nagoya Press].Google Scholar
  47. Law, D. (2014). Language contact, inherited similarity and social difference: The story of linguistic interaction in the Maya Lowlands. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Luckmann, T. (1995). The communicative paradigm in the “new” sociology of knowledge, Lecture given on the occasion of the symposium “New paradigms in contemporary sociology” in September 1995 in Granada. (= Das kommunikative Paradigma der “neuen” Wissenssoziologie. In T. Luckmann; H-G. Soeffner, H. Knoblauch & J. Reichertz (Eds.), Wissen und Gesellschaft: Ausgewählte Aufsätze 1981–2002. Translated by H. Knoblauch with the assistance of J. Raab and B. Schnettler (2002, pp. 201–210). Konstanz: UVK Verlagsgesellschaft.Google Scholar
  49. Luhmann, N. ([1971] 1975). Die Weltgesellschaft. In Soziologische Aufklärung, Bd. 2: Aufsätze zur Theorie der Gesellschaft (1975, pp. 51–71). Opladen: Westdeutscher Verlag.Google Scholar
  50. Lyons, J. (1981). Language and linguistics: An introduction. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Meinecke, F. ([1907] 1928). Weltbürgertum und Nationalstaat: Studien zur Genesis des deutschen Nationalstaates. 7th edition. Munich: R. Oldenbourg.Google Scholar
  52. Mommsen, W. J. (1974). Max Weber und die deutsche Politik 1890–1920. 2nd, revised and expanded edition. Tübingen: J. C. B. Mohr.Google Scholar
  53. Orihara, H. (1996). Vēbā “Keizai to shakai” no saikousei: Toruso no atama [Reconstruction of Weber’s Economy and society: Torso’s head]. Tokyo: Tōkyō Daigaku Shuppankai [University of Tokyo Press].Google Scholar
  54. Parsons, T. (1978). Action theory and the human condition. New York: Free Press.Google Scholar
  55. Pennycook, A. (1994). The cultural politics of English as an international language. London: Longman.Google Scholar
  56. Radkau, J. (2013). Max Weber: Die Leidenschaft des Denkens. Revised and abridged version. Munich: Deutscher Taschenbuch.Google Scholar
  57. Renan, E. ([1882] 1887). Qu’est-ce qu’une nation? (conférence faite en Sorbonne, le 11 mars 1882). In Discours et conférences (1887, pp. 277–310). Paris: Calmann-Lévy.Google Scholar
  58. Ricento, T. (2000). Historical and theoretical perspectives in language policy and planning. Journal of SocioLinguistics, 4(2), 196–213.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Ruhlen, M. ([1987] 1991). A guide to the world’s languages, vol. 1: Classification. With a postscript on recent developments. Stanford: Stanford University Press.Google Scholar
  60. Ryan, S. (2006). Language learning motivation within the context of globalization: An L2 self within an imagined global community. Critical Inquiry in Language Studies: An International Journal, 3(1), 23–45.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Schildt, J. (1991). Kurze Geschichte der deutschen Sprache. Berlin: Volk und Wissen.Google Scholar
  62. Schubert, K. (1989). Interlinguistics: Its aims, its achievements, and its place in language science. In K. Schubert (Ed.), Interlinguistics: Aspects of the science of planned languages (pp. 7–44). Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Simmel, G. ([1908] 1923). Soziologie: Untersuchungen über die Formen der Vergesellschaftung. 3rd edition. Munich: Duncker & Humblot.Google Scholar
  64. Simmel, G. ([1903] 1995). Soziologie des Raums. In R. Kramme, A. Rammstedt, & O. Rammstedt (Eds.) (1995), Gesamtausgabe: Aufsätze und Abhandlungen 1901–1908, Bd. 1. (pp. 132–183). Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp.Google Scholar
  65. Smith, A. D. (1979). Nationalism in the twentieth century. Oxford: Martin Robertson.Google Scholar
  66. Smith, A. D. (1991). National identity. London: Penguin Books.Google Scholar
  67. Stukenbrock, A. (2005). Sprachnationalismus: Sprachreflexion als Medium kollektiver Identitätsstiftung in Deutschland (1617–1945). Berlin: Walter de Gruyter.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Tada, M. (2010). Intentionality of communication: Theory of self-referential social systems as sociological phenomenology. Schutzian Research: A Yearbook of Lifeworldly Phenomenology and Qualitative Social Science, 2, 181–200.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. Tada, M. (2015a). Language as a zombie category of sociological theory. In P. Wisselgren, P. Baehr, & K. Yui (Eds.), International histories of sociology: Conference proceedings of the Research Committee on History of Sociology from the XVIII ISA World Congress of Sociology in Yokohama, 13–19 July 2014 (pp. 371–379).Google Scholar
  70. Tada, M. (2015b). From religion to language: The time of national society and the notion of the “shared” in sociological theory. Shakaigaku Nenshi [The Annals of Sociology], 56, 123–154.Google Scholar
  71. Tanji, N. (1996). Gengo to ninshiki no dainamizumu: Witogenshutain kara kuwain e [Dynamism of language and knowledge: From Wittgenstein to Quine]. Tokyo: Keisōshobō.Google Scholar
  72. Tönnies, F. ([1887] 1922). Gemeinschaft und Gesellschaft: Grundbegriffe der reinen Soziolologie. 4th and 5th edition. Berlin: Karl Curtius.Google Scholar
  73. Wallerstein, I. ([1986] 1991). Societal development, or development of the world-system? In Unthinking social science: The limits of nineteenth-century paradigms (1991, pp. 64–79). Cambridge: Polity Press.Google Scholar
  74. Weber, M. (1892). Die Verhältnisse der Landarbeiter im ostelbischen Deutschland (Preußische Provinzen Ost- und Westpreußen, Pommern, Posen, Schlesien, Brandenburg, Großherzogtümer Mecklenburg, Kreis Herzogtum Lauenburg). Schriften des Verein für Sozialpolitik, 55. Leipzig: Duncker & Humblot.Google Scholar
  75. Weber, M. ([1895] 1988). Der Nationalstaat und die Volkswirtschaftspolitik (Akademische Antrittsrede). In Weber (1988c, pp. 1‑25). (= The nation state and economic policy (Inaugural lecture). In P. Lassman & R. Speirs (Eds.) (1994). Political writings. (1994, pp. 1‑28). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press).Google Scholar
  76. Weber, M. ([1903-6] 1988). Roscher und Knies und die logischen Probleme der historischen Nationalökonomie. In Weber (1988b, pp. 1‑145). (= Roscher and Knies and the logical problems of historical economics. In Bruun & Whimster (2012a, pp. 3–94)).Google Scholar
  77. Weber, M. ([1904] 1988). Die »Objektivität« sozialwissenschaftlicher und sozialpolitischer Erkenntnis. In Weber (1988b, pp. 146-214). (= The “objectivity” of knowledge in social science and social policy. In Bruun & Whimster (2012a, pp. 100‑138)).Google Scholar
  78. Weber, M. ([1905] 1963). Die protestantische Ethik und der Geist des Kapitalismus. In Weber ([1920] 1963b, pp. 17–206). (= The protestant ethic and the spirit of capitalism. Translated by T. Parsons ([1930] 2005). London: Routledge).Google Scholar
  79. Weber, M. ([1909] 1988). “Energetische” Kulturtheorien. In Weber (1988b, pp. 400‑426). (= “Energetical” theories of culture. In Bruun & Whimster (2012a, pp. 252‑268)).Google Scholar
  80. Weber, M. ([1912a] 1988a). Zum Vortrag von P. Barth über »Die Nationalität in ihrer soziologischen Bedeutung« (Diskussionsreden auf dem zweiten Deutschen Soziologentag in Berlin 1912). In Weber (1988a, pp. 484–486).Google Scholar
  81. Weber, M. ([1912b] 1988b). Zum Vortrag von F. Schmid über »Das Recht der Nationalitäten« (Diskussionsreden auf dem zweiten Deutschen Soziologentag in Berlin 1912). In Weber (1988a, pp. 487–488).Google Scholar
  82. Weber, M. ([1913] 1988). Über einige Kategorien der verstehenden Soziologie. In Weber (1988b, pp. 427-474). (= On some categories of interpretive sociology. In Bruun & Whimster (2012a, pp. 273-301).Google Scholar
  83. Weber, M. ([1915] 1988). Bismarcks Außenpolitik und die Gegenwart (Dezember 1915). In Weber (1988c, pp. 112–129).Google Scholar
  84. Weber, M. ([1916] 1988). Deutschland unter den europäischen Weltmächten (Oktober 1916). In Weber (1988c, pp. 157–177).Google Scholar
  85. Weber, M. ([1917] 1988). Deutschlands äußere und Preußens innere Politik: I. Die Polenpolitik (Februar 1917); II. Die Nobilitierung der Kriegsgewinne (März 1917). In Weber (1988c, pp. 178–191).Google Scholar
  86. Weber, M. ([1920a] 1963a). Vorbemerkungen. In Weber ([1920] 1963b, pp. 1–16).Google Scholar
  87. Weber, M. ([1920b] 1963b). Gesammelte Aufsätze zur Religionssoziologie 1. 5th, photomechanically printed edition. Tübingen: J. C. B Mohr.Google Scholar
  88. Weber, M. ([1921/22] 1980). Wirtschaft und Gesellschaft: Grundriß der verstehenden Soziologie. Edited by Johannes Winckelmann. 5th, revised edition. Tübingen: J. C. B. Mohr. (= G. Roth & C. Wittich (Eds.) ([1968] 1978). Economy and society: An outline of interpretative sociology. Translated by E. Fischoff, H. Gerth, A. M. Henderson, F. Kolegar, C. W. Mills, T. Parsons, M. Rheinstein, G. Roth, E. Shils, & C. Wittich. University of California Press: Berkeley.)Google Scholar
  89. Weber, M. ([1921a] 1980a). Ethnische Gemeinschaftsbeziehungen. In Weber ([1921/22] 1980, pp. 234‑244 = Ethnic groups. In Roth & Wittich ([1968] 1978, pp. 385‑398)).Google Scholar
  90. Weber, M. ([1921b] 1980b). Soziologische Grundbegriffe. In Weber ([1921/22] 1980, pp. 1‑30 = Basic sociological terms. In Roth & Wittich ([1968] 1978, pp. 3‑62)).Google Scholar
  91. Weber, M. ([1921c] 1980c). Wirtschaftliche Beziehungen der Gemeinschaften (Wirtschaft und Gesellschaft) im Allgemeinen. In Weber ([1921/22] 1980, pp. 199‑211 = The economic relationships of organized groups. In Roth & Wittich ([1968] 1978, pp. 339‑355)).Google Scholar
  92. Weber, E. (1976). Peasants into Frenchmen: The modernization of rural France, 1870–1914. Stanford: Stanford University Press.Google Scholar
  93. Weber, M. ([1922] 1980). Soziologie der Herrschaft. In Weber ([1921/22] 1980, pp. 541–868 = Domination and legitimacy ([1968] 1978, pp. 941–1372)).Google Scholar
  94. Weber, M. (1988a). Gesammelte Aufsätze zur Soziologie und Sozialpolitik. 2nd edition. Edited Marianne Weber. Tübingen: J. C. B. Mohr.Google Scholar
  95. Weber, M. (1988b). Gesammelte Aufsätze zur Wissenschaftslehre. 7th edition. Edited by J. Winckelmann. Tübingen: J. C. B. Mohr.Google Scholar
  96. Weber, M. (1988c). Gesammelte politische Schriften. 5th edition. Edited by J. Winckelmann. Tübingen: J. C. B. Mohr.Google Scholar
  97. Wright, S. (2000). Community and communication: The role of language in nation state building and European integration. Clevedon: Multilingual Matters.Google Scholar
  98. Yamazaki, J. (1999). Makkusu wēbā ni okeru esunishiti gainen [Das ethnische Problem bei Max Weber/The ethnic problem in Max Weber]. Soshiorogika [Sociologica], 24(1), 1–24.Google Scholar
  99. Yule, G. (2014). The study of language (5th ed.). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  100. Zamenhof, L. L. (1929). In J. Dietterle (Ed.), Originala verkaro: Antaŭparoloj-gazetartikoloj-traktaĵoj, paroladoj-leteroj-poemoj. Leipzig: Ferdinand Hirt & Sohn.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of Humanities and Social SciencesKumamoto UniversityKumamotoJapan

Personalised recommendations