Unit 1: What is political theory?

  • An initial definition of the subject and discussion of the approach I take in this course.
  • Lays out three core approaches to the study of society: the scientific, participant and normative perspectives.
  • Philosophy, and so also this course, emphasises the normative approach but, as we’ll see, inevitably utilises the others as well.
  • Surveys three major axes of disagreement and controversy in social and political theory: the role of history, structure and agency, and materialism and idealism.