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World Society, World-Polity Theory, and International Relations

John Boli, Selina Gallo-Cruz and Matt Mathias

Subject International Studies » International Relations Theory

Key-Topics global citizenship, governance, society

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781444336597.2010.x


World-polity theory (also known as world-society theory, global neo-institutionalism, and the “Stanford school” of global analysis) is a prominent sociological perspective for the analysis of global culture, organization, and change. Its chief rival in sociology is world-systems theory, though the two perspectives are in some ways complementary rather than competitive. It is largely compatible with the globalization perspective associated with Roland Robertson and the cultural analysis mode of anthropologists Ulf Hannerz and Arjun Appadurai. To some extent, the constructivist approach in international relations theory resembles world-polity theory, but world-polity theorists have been far more resolute in taking the “cultural plunge” than their constructivism counterparts. While no book-length treatment of world-polity theory is available, useful overviews or critical summaries have been published by Drori and Krücken (2009) , Meyer (2009) , and Krücken (2005) . Wobbe's (2000) discussion of several “world society” perspectives, associated with Peter Heintz (1972) , Niklas Luhmann (1997) , and John Meyer (the key figure in world-polity theory; see Krücken and Drori 2009 ), is also helpful. While writing this chapter, we produced an extensive bibliography, updated at irregular intervals, of world-polity publications. It is available on the World Society, Institutional Theory, ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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