Cambridge Catalogue  
  • Help
Home > Catalogue > The Social Construction of the Ocean
The Social Construction of the Ocean


  • 12 b/w illus.
  • Page extent: 258 pages
  • Size: 228 x 152 mm
  • Weight: 0.55 kg

Library of Congress

  • Dewey number: 333.91/64
  • Dewey version: 21
  • LC Classification: GC11.2 .S74 2001
  • LC Subject headings:
    • Ocean

Library of Congress Record


 (ISBN-13: 9780521804431 | ISBN-10: 0521804434)

This 2001 book presents a history of the uses, regulations and representation of the world-ocean, from approximately 1450 through the present. This history is told through a 'territorial political economy' lens, borrowing from world-systems theory, economic-geographic studies of the spatiality of capitalism, political-geographic work on the history of territoriality, and post-structural work on social conflict in the production of space. Just as the modern era has been characterized by a conflicting set of dynamic and contested spatiality on land, so has it been characterized by a conflicting set of spatial functions at sea. Evidence is marshaled from legal texts, literary and artistic creations, cartographic representations, advertisements, commercial and military history, and policy debates. The book concludes by considering how lessons learned from the history of the ocean may be applied to emerging spaces, such as cyberspace, where there is a similarly problematic 'fit' between social processes and the institutions of state governance.

• Unique application of social and state theory to the ocean • Unique integration of legal/political history with cultural history as depicted in paintings, literature, advertisements, films, etc. • Weaves together theoretical debates with an engaging - even at times dramatic - narrative style, providing crossover appeal to a nonacademic audience


Introduction: from Davy Jones' locker to the Foot Locker: the case of the floating Nikes; 1. The social construction of ocean-space; 2. Ocean-space in non-modern societies; 3. Ocean-space and merchant capitalism; 4. Ocean-space and industrial capitalism; 5. Ocean-space and postmodern capitalism; 6. Beyond postmodern capitalism, beyond ocean-space.


'This is much more than a social constructionist's book about the sea. Steinberg has produced a splendid innovative text that will be of interest to all social scientists with an interest in the historical development of the modern world from outside narrow nationalist perspectives.' Peter J. Taylor, Loughborough University

'This is an apt summary of an excellent book, which makes a highly original contribution to a much under considered portion of political geography in theoretically nuanced and empirically informative ways. It is not only the first such major contribution to the study of the political economy and geography of the oceans, but destined to be a classic.' Ron Johnston, University of Bristol

'… this thoughtful, engaging, and clearly written book is noteworthy for giving prominence to spaces of the world that have been largely ignored. It contributes not only to our knowledge of the oceans, but also to that of geohistorical productions of space throughout the modern period.' Becky Mansfield, Environment & Planning A

printer iconPrinter friendly version AddThis