World society (20TH CENTURY)

Theory of international relations propounded by Australian political scientist John W Burton (1915- ).

A more ambitious version of the theory of international society.

Graham Evans and Jeffrey Newnham, The Dictionary of World Politics (Hemel Hempstead, 1990)


Through a series of empirical studies, Meyer and others observed that new states organize themselves in a significantly similar manner despite their differing needs and background to give strength to their explanation that there is a set norm of forming a new state under the bigger umbrella of world polity.[4]

Other instances suggest a definite presence of world polity:

  1. A considerable degree of resemblance in national constitutions, which commonly contain the idea of self-determination, state sovereignty and territorial integrity.[5]
  2. Schooling around the world showing isomorphism.[5]
  3. Nitza Berkovitch stated that the occurrence of the international women’s movement reflected the existence of world polity framework and so allows the world to be viewed as a single global social system.[6]
  4. An empirical study of INGOs (International nongovernmental organizations) shows the existence of universalism, individualism, rational voluntaristic authority, progress and world citizenship across different INGOS. Sports, human rights, and environmental INGOS especially tend to “reify” world polity.[3] According to John Boli and George M. Thomas, who conducted this study, INGOS could instill world-cultural principles of world polity to nations by lobbying, criticizing, and convincing.[3]


Critics point to the fact that world polity theory assumes a rather flawless and smooth transfer of norms of world polity to the global actors, which might not always be really plausible. Also, its tendency to focus on the homogenizing effect brings criticisms.[5] World culture theory differs in this aspect from world polity theory because it recognizes that actors find their own identities in relation to the greater global cultural norm instead of simply following what is suggested by the world polity.[4]

Also, an instance of glocalization cannot fully be explained by world polity theory. It is a phenomenon by which local values and global cultures converge to create something new.

1 thoughts on “World society (20TH CENTURY)

  1. Pat Debrock says:

    Your style is so unique compared to many other people. Thank you for publishing when you have the opportunity,Guess I will just make this bookmarked.2

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