In the 19th century the 'social question' was the central subject of extremely volatile political conflicts between the ruling classes and the working-class movements in Europe, North America and Australia. Are we now on the verge of a new social conflict, this time on a 'transnational scale'? It is the aim of this paper to identify new analytical strands with respect to the transnational social question. The following four questions will thereby be examined: Firstly, what concepts are meaningful for an analysis of the transnational social question and related social rights? This will include a discussion of normative political and socio-theoretical approaches such as notions of national citizenship as opposed to world citizenship, as well as positive theory - in this case systemic differentiation theory and neo-institutionalist world society theory. Secondly, how advanced or fragmentary are social rights and citizenship in the different partial worlds? This question requires the examination of empirical evidence from a sub-global level. Thirdly, how are transnational social rights regulated? How are they governed? What problems arise in regard to their effectiveness? Here, multiple agencies and institutions on different levels of political systems have to be taken into account. The fourth and final section discusses the discursive integration of transnational social rights into the development and global social policy paradigms, and draws up a research agenda.