The Politics of Place

The Politics of Place

Montesquieu, Particularism, and the Pursuit of Liberty

Joshua Bandoch

eBook for Handhelds

University of Rochester Press



A critical reexamination of Montesquieu's political science, revealing the primacy of place in the development of the best political order.
Many Enlightenment thinkers sought to discover the right political order for all times and all places, and scholars often view Montesquieu as working within this project. In this reassessment of Montesquieu's political thought, Joshua Bandoch finds that Montesquieu broke from this ideal and, by taking into account the variation of societies, offered a more fruitful approach to the study of politics.

Through a careful reading of Montesquieu's political writings, Bandoch shows that for Montesquieu the politics, economics, and morals of a society must fit a particular place and its people. As long as states commit to pursuing security, liberty, and prosperity, states can -- indeed, should -- define and advance these goals in their own particular ways. Montesquieu saw that the circumstances of a place -- its religion, commerce, laws, institutions, physical environment, and mores -- determine the best political order for that place. In this sense, Montesquieu is the great innovator of what Bandoch calls the "politics of place." This new reading of Montesquieu also provides fresh insights into the American founding, which Montesquieu so heavily influenced. Instead of having discerned the "right" political order, Bandoch argues, the Founders instituted a good political order, of which there are numerous versions.

Joshua Bandoch earned his PhD in political science from the University of Notre Dame. He has taught at Brown University and the University of Wisconsin-Madison.


266 pages
9x6 in
Hardback, 9781580469029, November 2017
eBook for Handhelds, 9781787441668, November 2017
eBook, 9781787441644, November 2017
University of Rochester Press
BISAC POL010000, PHI019000, HIS037050
Share on Facebook   Share on Twitter   Pin it   Share by Email

Related Titles

Table of Contents

Montesquieu's Political Science
Security, Liberty, and Prosperity as Particularistic Political Goals
The Political Variables
The Subpolitical Variables
The American Founding as a Particularistic Achievement