‘Book Review of Austin Harrington’s German Cosmopolitan Social Thought and the Idea of the West: Voices from Weimar’, British Journal of Sociology 68 (3): 584-8.

There is a perverse irony in that fact that the ‘Brexit’ vote in June 2016 seems to
have become a trigger for British sociology – in its increasingly postcolonial
incarnation – to start mourning the very idea of Europe that they have been
incessantly trashing for the past couple decades. So much effort has been spent
in blaming Europe for all ills within contemporary sociology, and so much energy
has been devoted to criticising those who would uphold Europe’s positive
contributions, that a genuine sense of loss for what we all are about to lose may
yet take a while to fully sink in. The irony of the situation is only compounded by
the fact that, while political motifs surely differ, this blasé attitude of ‘Europe is
to blame’ is not altogether dissimilar to the one we witnessed in various parts of
the political establishment that started caring about Europe all too late. Nobody
can accuse Austin Harrington of any of this, however. Scholarly as well as
politically, this book is fully committed to a democratic and indeed cosmopolitan
idea of Europe that provided the fertile social and intellectual grounds on which
sociology emerged in Germany at the turn of the twentieth century.


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