Dennis Kavanagh

in The Oxford Handbook of British Politics

Published in print July 2009 | ISBN: 9780199230952
Published online January 2010 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Politics & International Relations



This article explores British approaches in politics over three periods — pre-1914, inter-war years, and post-1945 — and describes their merits. The first period is dominated by historians and a consensus around the Whig interpretation; the second sees the emergence of a number of academic political scientists based in universities; and the final period witnesses the stresses and pressures from the expansion and specialization of the discipline. Challenges have emerged from outside the discipline, particularly from: significant recent changes in British political institutions and behaviour, dissatisfaction with the performance of British political institutions and by extension with the mindset associated with the Westminster model, and the growing tendency to study British politics as part of a European system or polity. In general, there have been trends to professionalization and positivism in British political science. But these forces have not driven out other traditions from the discipline.

Keywords: antecedent; pre-1914; inter-war years; post-1945; British political science; British politics; British political institutions; professionalization; positivism

Article.  8126 words. 

Subjects: Politics ; UK Politics

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