The critique of methodological nationalism arose in the 1970s in sociology, but it only gained salience with the rise of globalization theory in the late 1990s. This article argues that in International Relations the discussion of the so-called ‘domestic analogy’ is closely connected to the one on methodological nationalism as they equally point to the substantive problem of understanding the nation state’s position in modernity. The first section of this article revisits the three waves of the debate on methodological nationalism in sociology. The second part connects this with the discussion in IR on the domestic analogy. The last section brings the two disciplinary strands together by suggesting that social theory’s claim to universalism is a fundamental resource to theorize current global processes beyond methodological nationalism and the domestic analogy. But for us to do so, we still have to unpack social theory’s ambivalent relationship with the natural law tradition.