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Conceptualizing the StateInnovation and Dispute in British Political Thought 1880-1914$
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James Meadowcroft

Print publication date: 1995

Print ISBN-13: 9780198206019

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198206019.001.0001

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The Movement of Theory

The Movement of Theory

(p.211) 5 The Movement of Theory
Conceptualizing the State


Oxford University Press

The period on which this book has focused was one of substantial institutional change, during which patterns of political interaction which were to persist through the twentieth century became established. In retrospect, it appears as a period of organizational and conceptual ‘modernization’ during which political practice and discourse adjusted to the coming of mass democratic politics. Over the thirty-five years with which this study has been concerned, there were substantial modifications to the way in which the state appeared in political argument in Britain. During the 1880s, and through the mid-1890s, the primary theoretical concern was with the relation between ‘the state and the individual’. By the late 1890s, the older individualism had obviously decayed, and a more ‘positive’ conception of the state was broadly taken for granted. Over the ensuing decade, increased attention was paid to issues such as democracy, international interaction, and group life, and the debate broadened out to include more substantial contributions from both conservatives and socialists.

Keywords:   Britain, state, individualism, democracy, group life, conservatives, socialists, politics

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