Conceptions of World Order and Their Social Carrier Groups
The project “Conceptions of World Order and Their Social Carrier Groups” explores transformations of conceptions of world order from the late nineteenth century to the present. Our researchers explore various patterns and rhythms of world order-related thinking (particularly in relation to China) in different parts of the world. In this context, the project not only analyzes images of global political and economic power formations but also includes into the picture other factors like cultural hegemonies or global social and religious movements.
In the English language, the concept of “world order” primarily refers to basic (sometimes even institutionalized) facets of global political and economic power formations. It is often used interchangeably with concepts such as “global order” or even “international order”. Among other currents, social movements (including NGOs) are increasingly identified as crucial aspects of world order; moreover, many scholars are interested in the importance of global soft power including cultural hegemonies. Others pay attention to the significance of religiously inspired ideals in shaping imageries on world order. Visions of the world certainly have the potential to include such complexities into the bigger picture, but at the same time they need to offer a relatively clear image of a global situation. Hence visions of world order are at least partially abstractions of global power relations. There is a strong tendency to exaggerate specific facets of international power and worldwide interactions when presenting them as patterns of worldwide order. It hence would be naïve to view visions of world order merely as reflections of global realities; they simultaneously represent imagined worlds.
Our research related to this project focuses on visions of world order among various social carrier groups. Within this framework, we study themes that are highly relevant for the present while at the same time paying due attention to complex historical configurations. In various case studies, we explore how particular visions of world order have been shaped by their specific contexts and concrete circumstances. Furthermore, we probe into selected visions of world order in different parts of the world (e.g. China and Europe) and partly compare them to one another and partly search for entanglements and connections. In what ways have the changing patterns and rhythms of ideas about world order been connected with one another across regions and continents? Under what circumstances did particular social carrier groups primarily identify with their own local or national environments? And under what circumstances did ideas of shared transnational interest prevail in debates on world order?