Whatever happened to Conservative Social Thought?

By | 16th April 2019

…This post focusses mainly on conservative thinking, partly because it is increasingly difficult to identify when and where many students would meet a respectful presentation of this stream of ideas. How many social science departments actually teach a core component on Conservative Social Thought?

Conservative social and political thought rests on three quite distinct foundations that many contemporary politicians would struggle to disentangle – which is partly why their policy prescriptions are such a mess. However, the failure of the social sciences to define and articulate these also poses a problem for critical analysis. If we fail to recognize the genuine legitimacy of alternative formulations of key theoretical issues in our field, we will struggle to do more than chant slogans in response…

…Are the social sciences an intellectual wing of some radical movement, whether of the right, as in the case of economics, or the left, as in the case of most others? Or are they a means of informing the practice of those who represent and lead major social institutions? Do we work hard enough to get partisans to appreciate the complexity of politics and society – and the genuine concerns and arguments of their critics? Do our libertarians understand why Adam Smith thought markets should be constrained by moral sentiments? Do our advocates for the marginalized understand how and where this threatens the identity of those whose consent is required for lasting change?

A Sage socialsciencespace blog

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