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From professionalisation and normalisation to genealogy and realism: the challenge of liberalism in contemporary political theory

Kelly, Paul (2022) From professionalisation and normalisation to genealogy and realism: the challenge of liberalism in contemporary political theory. Society, 59 (2). 110 - 118. ISSN 0147-2011

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Identification Number: 10.1007/s12115-022-00702-2

Abstract

This essay seeks to characterise and explain a specific pattern in professional political theorising over the last five decades. The paper does not seek to offer a stipulative or philosophical definition of the activity and nor can it offer a full historical or political sociological analysis of the activity in the context of academic institutions in the Anglophone world. Instead it provides a high-level overview of a particular pattern of development in the activity of political theory as exemplified in core outputs such as monographs, journal articles and essays as a way of explicating some perennial dynamics in the discipline that could be given a more extended historical and sociological explanation. That pattern is illustrated in the initial quest for professionalisation and institutional normalisation which has a tendency towards presenting the subject of study as converging on a broadly liberal agenda. This dominant liberal paradigm in turn has been challenged by the recent development of genealogical analyses of the contemporary intellectual history of political theory and the rise of political realism as attempts to sustain a common subject of enquiry that does not collapse into the endorsement of a liberal vision of ‘the political’. This dialectic, which centres on the problem of liberalism, is the key to understanding the fundamental dynamic of Anglophone political theory as an institutional practice as well as a body of ideas, principles and values.

Item Type: Article
Official URL: https://www.springer.com/journal/12115
Additional Information: © 2022 The Author
Divisions: Government
Subjects: J Political Science > JC Political theory
Date Deposited: 15 Mar 2022 11:18
Last Modified: 05 May 2022 10:00
URI: http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/id/eprint/114357

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