Political Science and the Concept of Politics : A Twentieth-Century Genealogy
Sammanfattning: This dissertation is a historical investigation of the concept of politics in twentieth-century political science. It is set against the backdrop of the comprehensive rethinking of political concepts we are witnessing today in debates about forces like globalization, individualization, multiculturalism, and postcolonialism, and it seeks to account for the apparent difficulties in rethinking politics in similar terms today. Whereas core concepts like people, nation, state, society, and a host of related concepts have recently been reconsidered in light of these forces in the world, the concept of politics seems resistant to such rethinking, instead causing considerable uncertainty about the conceptual identity of politics and, by implication, about the disciplinary identity of political science in a changing world. The dissertation argues that this is largely because modern political thought has long rested on the assumption that politics is only possible and conceivable on the basis of something prior to itself, while all the entities politics has conventionally been thought to be prior to are today in question. Against this contemporary backdrop, the dissertation investigates historically how conceptualizations of politics in twentieth-century political science have consistently both sustained and been sustained by this assumption, by being premised on various descriptions of modern society. Tracing a number of such descriptions of society and related conceptualizations of politics from the early years of the twentieth century to our own day, the dissertation concludes by reconsidering the apparent difficulties in rethinking politics today. Arguing that such a rethinking would mean transcending the assumption that politics is only possible and conceivable on the basis of something prior to itself, the dissertation ends by briefly outlining what would be involved in such a rethinking, and what it would entail for the conceptual identity of politics and the disciplinary identity of political science.
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