Department of Political Science

Gorm Harste

Territoriality as Medium:  - in a system theory of European State-Building

Research output: Working paperResearch

  • Department of Political Science

The present paper questions the idea of unity in a circumvented coherent territory as it has been naturalized in modern social and political theory. The paper demonstrates that there was nothing democratic in that idea and in the historical constructions of European state territories. The argument is displayed through a system analysis of territories as codified systems. The sociology offered by Niklas Luhmann is used to take a theoretical grasp over historical materials and historical sociology, thus the paper also test Luhmann's abstract theory in its capacity to analyse seemingly more concrete evidences as space, land, roads and bricks. The paper discusses especially the history of French territorialisation from 1500 to 1900 as model for state-territory.The methodological devices of the paper are, first, to observe the territorial state system as an improbable system emerged through forms of evolution and differentiation processes that hardly or seldom can be repeated outside a certain scope of time and space. Second, territorialities are contingent upon forms and systems of communication, with other communication systems very different uses of space have occurred and may still emerge. Third, the most extraordinare evolutionary property is that territoriality entered into the observer's perspective.

Original languageEnglish
Place of publicationCouncil of European Studies, Montreal
Number of pages38
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2010

    Research areas

  • Luhmann, system theory, state system, state theory, state-building, absolutism, central perspecitive, Colbert, historical sociology, territoriality

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ID: 20114054