In the Shadow of World Polity: Spatial Narratives of Civil Society Organizations

Publication: Working/Discussion Paper


World Polity Theory has found broad acceptance as an explanation for the worldwide spread of rationalist ideas and modern models of actorhood in and through civil society. This theory states that modern actorhood is about the representation of legitimated principals, which in many cases are abstract principles such as global notions of human rights or environmental sustainability. In our study, we add on to this by analyzing spatial narratives of CSOs located in Austria's largest metropolitan region. We identify six narratives: lococentric, home/alien, world polity, world society, glocalization and earthly/metaphysical world. We find that these narratives form a spectrum whose focus ranges from the local to the global to the metaphysical level. World polity theory is able to explain the middle of this spectrum, but has been insensitive to its outer sections, which in the case of the lococentric narrative make up a major part of what is going on in civil society. We thus show that there are remarkably large spaces for the development of CSO identities that are hardly affected by global isomorphism.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationAustin, Texas, United States
PublisherARNOVA conference, 15.11.-17.11. 2018
Publication statusPublished - 2018

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