Conservatism is often labelled as a ‘disposition’, ‘tradition’, or even a set of knee-jerk reactions, rather than an ideology, and its suspicion of grand theorising has lent itself to this characterization. In this book, leading political theorist Edmund Neill challenges this view.

He argues that conservatism is better identified as an ideology, albeit one that, rather than putting forward positive values like ‘liberty’ or ‘equality’, conceptualizes human conduct as being partially dependent on forces beyond human volition, and prioritizes the cautious management of change. He charts the evolution of conservative thought from the French Revolution to the present, examining how conservatives responded to disruptions to traditional order across the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Drawing on examples from Britain, France and the United States, Neill concludes with some reflections on the challenges (and opportunities) that contemporary populism presents for conservatism.

This accomplished overview is essential reading for any student or scholar working in political theory and political philosophy, especially those with a particular interest in ideologies and conservatism.

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  • October 2021
  • 180 pages
  • 138 x 216 mm / 5 x 9 in
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  • Hardback $59.95
  • 9781509527052
  • Paperback $19.95
  • 9781509527069
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  • 9781509527090
Table of Contents
Chapter 1 Defining Conservatism

Chapter 2 Conservatism from the French Revolution to 1848

Chapter 3 Conservatism from 1848 to the First World War

Chapter 4 Conservatism in the Era of the Two World Wars

Chapter 5 Conservatism from the 1960s to the Present



About the Author
Edmund Neill is Lecturer in Modern History at the New College of the Humanities at Northeastern University.
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‘This deft and intelligent examination of conservative thought combines a strong emphasis on its comparative history with an acute understanding of its conceptual flexibility. Neill applies his highly effective analysis to the diverse contexts that reveal and illuminate conservatism’s nuances and layers.’
Michael Freeden, University of Oxford

‘Over the last two centuries conservatives have stood for very different things at different times. Edmund Neill does full justice to this diversity of conservatisms while convincingly demonstrating that it makes sense to analyse it as a single political tradition.’
Stuart Jones, Manchester University

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