Sociology Index


Metropolis-hinterland theory of social and economic development examines how economically advanced societies, through trade and colonialism, distort and retard the economic development of less developed societies and regions. Although the metropolis-hinterland theory predicts that closer ties to the mainstream economy will further retard the development of a peripheral economy. Under certain circumstances joint ventures may be an appropriate mechanism for the economic development of First Nation communities. Metropolis-hinterland theory is also called Metropolis-hinterland thesis or Centre-Periphery Thesis.

For more than a century Ontario, or even more narrowly the Toronto region, was seen as the metropolis to a vast Canadian hinterland and the United States has been seen as the metropolis for a Canadian hinterland. A metropolis is identified as the centre of political and economic power, as having a more advanced labour market, more skilled and educated workers, an abundance of value-added production, higher standard of living, etc. A hinterland would be less able to withstand the political and economic interference of the metropolis, would have an abundance of resource extraction industries, fewer skilled and educated workers, a lower standard of living and in many ways would emulate the culture of the metropolis.

From the Hinterland - Melanee Thomas 
I never bought into the Metropolis-Hinterland theory of political organization until I ran as an NDP candidate in my home city of Lethbridge during the 2004 federal election.

Within this theory, the Metropolis is viewed as an area of privilege with high political priorities, whereas the Hinterland consists of regions where political issues are ignored by the political elite. Large urban centres are traditionally seen to be the Metropolis and rural areas are the Hinterland. 

When I first read this theory, I thought it lacked insight and did little to explain Canadian politics. After my campaign experience, I have changed my conclusion. The Metropolis-Hinterland theory does, in fact, shed light on how all political parties view this province, and how little people from Alberta understand our political culture.