Theory and Society

, Volume 35, Issue 2, pp 237–264 | Cite as

Northern Theory: The Political Geography of General Social Theory



The relationship between geopolitical position and general social theory is examined by a detailed reading of three important texts, Coleman’s Foundations of Social Theory, Bourdieu’s Logic of Practice, and Giddens’s Constitution of Society. Effects of metropolitan position are traced in theoretical strategies, conceptions of time and history, models of agency, ideas of modernity, and other central features of their theorizing. Four textual moves are identified that together constitute the northernness of general social theory: claiming universality, reading from the center, gestures of exclusion, and grand erasure. Some alternative paths for theory, embodying different relations with the global South, are briefly indicated.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of Education and Social Work, A35University of SydneySydneyAustralia

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