argument top image

What is society?
Back to question

Societies mobilize around possession of territory

The possession and defence of a territory is one of the greatest mobilizing forces in a society.
< (2 of 2) Next argument >


One of the most powerful unifying forces in a society is the shared defense of a territory.

The Argument

The foundations of any society can be identified by the society’s ability to mobilize and unite in defense of those shared foundations. In most societies, the defense of a shared territory is the most unifying and mobilizing force available. Members of a society will put aside any other difference to protect a particular geographic area. Therefore, it is reasonable to conclude that it is this shared territory that connects all the elements of a society and is the cohesion that provides the foundations on which everything else is founded.

Counter arguments

The fact that societies mobilize around the protection of a specific territory is not the same as asserting that a society is defined by its shared territory. A territory and a society are entirely different entities, but they have a close relationship. A territory is the natural result of the process of forming a society, but it is not an integral part of the society.[1] If a society is de-terrorialized, is robbed of its land and forced to move, does that society become extinct? The answer is evidently no. That society may become nomadic, take another territory, or become a diaspora elsewhere, but it survives in its existing form. This would suggest that while societies have a close relationship to their territory, they are not reducible to the possession of that territory.


The importance of something can be identified by how determined somebody is to protect it. Nothing unifies and mobilizes a society as much as a threat to its territory. This indicates the central role a shared territory plays in the formation and shaping of a society.


[P1] We fight to protect the things that are most important to us. [P2] Societies mobilize and fight to protect shared territory. [P3] Therefore, the most important thing for a society is the shared territory.

Rejecting the premises

[Rejecting P3] Just because a territory is important to a society, doesn't mean it defines it.


This page was last edited on Friday, 17 Apr 2020 at 12:10 UTC

Explore related arguments