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Terence Ball

It is said in some quarters that political theory need not, and perhaps should not, be a “historical” enterprise. It should be concerned with discovering and articulating timeless truths or addressing “perennial problems.” Or it should be an ahistorical “analytical” study in which one aims to answer important questions definitively and once and for all. The author argues that these and other attempts to de-historicize political theory are misguided and that, indeed, political theory is inescapably historical in several senses of that term. Firstly, works of political theory are written in particular places and times by authors attempting to address particular questions. Secondly, these works are received and read by audiences in other times. And thirdly, the meanings of these works are interpreted by readers through the medium of one or another interpretive framework, which is itself historically datable. All these considerations point to the conclusion that political theory is necessarily “historical.”

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Political Theory and Political Science

Can This Marriage Be Saved?

Terence Ball

The too-often unhappy 'marriage' of political theory and political science has long been a source of anguish for both partners. Should this troubled partnership be dissolved? Or might this marriage yet be saved? Ball answers the former question negatively and the latter affirmatively. Playing the part of therapist instead of theorist, he selectively recounts a number of episodes which estranged the partners and strained the marriage. And yet, he concludes that the conflicts were in hindsight more constructive than destructive, benefiting both partners in heretofore unexpected ways and perhaps paving a path toward reconciliation and rapprochement.

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Maša Mrovlje and Jennet Kirkpatrick

in political theory, standing at the heart of attempts to respond to the dilemmas of contemporary times. However, many accounts tend to ascribe to an idealised, heroic view. In this view, resistance represents a clear-cut action against injustice and

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Marcelo Hoffman

Anxiety about the party form casts a long shadow over various currents of radical political theory. This anxiety is rooted in historical experiences and legacies not only among long-established communist and socialist parties in Europe but

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Modern Revolutions and Beyond

An Interview with John Dunn

Benjamin Abrams and John Dunn

, and remains perhaps the most impactful piece of political theory published on the topic in the last fifty years. Though Modern Revolutions itself only received one formal English-language update, in 1989, Dunn’s theory of revolution has continued to

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Bridging the Gap Between Theory and Practice

Democratic Theory through an Agonistic Lens

Marie Paxton

Introduction The question of “where does democratic theory's value lie?” is timely and much needed. In an era of cuts to the social sciences and, more specifically, political science and political theory, it is fundamental to defend the

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Amílcar Cabral and Amartya Sen

Freedom, Resistance and Radical Realism

Lawrence Hamilton

. – Amartya Sen (1980: 218 ) Much mainstream political theory and development studies has tended to be too parochial, abstract and cautious to be of practical help in orienting agents in politics, to help us judge what is a good or a bad idea and to decide

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Christian Fuchs and John Collier

Economic logic impinges on contemporary political theory through both economic reductionism and economic methodology applied to political decision-making (through game theory). The authors argue that the sort of models used are based on mechanistic and linear methodologies that have now been found wanting in physics. They further argue that complexity based self-organization methods are better suited to model the complexities of economy and polity and their interactions with the overall social system.

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The End of Revolution, and Its Means

Processual and Programmatic Approaches to Revolution in the Epoch of Revolution Debate

Benjamin Abrams

of other political theory, we are intuitively tempted to try to derive naturalistic pronouncements from his work. We presume that when Dunn says that the “Epoch of Revolution” has passed, he is stating that there will be no more historical phenomena

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Ethnicity, Homogeneity, Nation

A Relationship of Tension

Samuel Salzborn

, Hobbes and the Global Order in the Twenty-first Century ’. Theoria: A Journal of Social and Political Theory 61 ( 144 ): 19 – 39 . doi: 10.3167/th.2015.6214402 . Salzborn , S. 2017 . Kampf der Ideen: Die Geschichte politischer Theorien im