World society and the nation-state

John W. Meyer, John Boli, George Thomas, Francisco O. Ramirez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2970 Scopus citations


The authors analyze the nation-state as a worldwide institution constructed by worldwide cultural and associational processes, developing four main topics: (1) properties of nation-states that result from their exogenously driven construction, including isomorphism, decoupling, and expansive structuration; (2) processes by which rationalistic world culture affects national states; (3) characteristics of world society that enhance the impact of world culture on national states and societies, including conditions favoring the diffusion of world models, expansion of world-level associations, and rationalized scientific and professional authority; (4) dynamic features of world culture and society that generate expansion, conflict, and change, especially the statelessness of world society, legitimation of multiple levels of rationalized actors, and internal inconsistencies and contradictions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)144-181
Number of pages38
JournalAmerican Journal of Sociology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 1997

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science


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