No political concept is more used, and misused, than that of democracy. Looking at key case studies, this explores the history of the doctrine and practice of democracy, and of the usages and practices associated with it in the modern world.
This book introduces readers to the concepts of political philosophy. It starts by explaining why the subject is important and how it tackles basic ethical questions such as 'how should we live together in society?' It looks at political authority, the reasons why we need politics at all, the limitations of politics, and whether there are areas of life that shouldn't be governed by politics. It explores the connections between political authority and justice, a constant theme in political philosophy, and the ways in which social justice can be used to regulate rather than destroy a market economy. David Miller discusses why nations are the natural units of government and whether the rise of multiculturalism and transnational co-operation will change this: will we ever see the formation of a world government? ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.
American politics seems to grow more contentious and complicated by the day, and whether American democracy works well is hotly debated. Amidst all this roiling partisan argument and confusing claims and counterclaims, there has never been a greater need for an impartial primer on the basics of the American political system. This Very Short Introduction gives readers a concise, accessible, and sophisticated overview of the vital elements of American democracy, emphasizing both how these elements function, their historical origins, and how they have evolved into their present forms. Richard Valelly covers all facets of America's political system: the bicameral Congress and the place of the filibuster, the legislative-executive process, the role of the Supreme Court, political parties and democratic choice, bureaucracy, the partisan revival, and the political economy. He offers as well an original analysis of the evolution of the American presidency and a fascinating chapter on the effects of public polling on political decision-making and voter representation. Valelly shows that the American political system is, and always has been, very much a work in progress--unfolding within, and also constantly updating, an eighteenth-century constitutional framework. In a refreshingly balanced and judicious assessment, he explores the strengths of American democracy while candidly acknowledging both gaps in representation and the increasing income inequality have sparked protest and intense public discussion. Finally, Valelly considers the remarkable persistence, for more than two centuries, of the basic constitutional forms established in 1787, despite the dramatic social changes that have reshaped virtually all aspects of American life. For anyone wishing to understand the nuts and bolts of how our political system works--and sometimes fails to work--this Very Short Introduction is the very best place to start. About the Series: Oxford's Very Short Introductions series offers concise and original introductions to a wide range of subjects--from Islam to Sociology, Politics to Classics, Literary Theory to History, and Archaeology to the Bible. Not simply a textbook of definitions, each volume in this series provides trenchant and provocative--yet always balanced and complete--discussions of the central issues in a given discipline or field. Every Very Short Introduction gives a readable evolution of the subject in question, demonstrating how the subject has developed and how it has influenced society. Eventually, the series will encompass every major academic discipline, offering all students an accessible and abundant reference library. Whatever the area of study that one deems important or appealing, whatever the topic that fascinates the general reader, the Very Short Introductions series has a handy and affordable guide that will likely prove indispensable.
Interest in citizenship has never been higher. But what does it mean to be a citizen in a modern, complex community? Richard Bellamy approaches the subject of citizenship from a political perspective and, in clear and accessible language, addresses the complexities behind this highly topical issue.
No one has ever described American democracy with more accurate insight or more profoundly than Alexis de Tocqueville. After meeting with Americans on extensive travels in the United States, and intense study of documents and authorities, he authored the landmark Democracy in America, publishing its two volumes in 1835 and 1840. Ever since, this book has been the best source for every serious attempt to understand America and democracy itself. Yet Tocqueville himself remains a mystery behind the elegance of his style. Now one of our leading authorities on Tocqueville explains him in this splendid new entry in Oxford's acclaimed Very Short Introduction series. Harvey Mansfield addresses his subject as a thinker, clearly and incisively exploring Tocqueville's writings--not only his masterpiece, but also his secret Recollections, intended for posterity alone, and his unfinished work on his native France, The Old Regime and the Revolution. Tocqueville was a liberal, Mansfield writes, but not of the usual sort. The many elements of his life found expression in his thought: his aristocratic ancestry, his ventures in politics, his voyages abroad, his hopes and fears for America, and his disappointment with France. All his writings show a passion for political liberty and insistence on human greatness. Perhaps most important, he saw liberty not in theories, but in the practice of self-government in America. Ever an opponent of abstraction, he offered an analysis that forces us to consider what we actually do in our politics--suggesting that theory itself may be an enemy of freedom. And that, Mansfield writes, makes him a vitally important thinker for today. Translator of an authoritative edition of Democracy in America, Harvey Mansfield here offers the fruit of decades of research and reflection in a clear, insightful, and marvelously compact introduction.
Beneath the surface of the apparently untutored and deceptively frank Abraham Lincoln ran private tunnels of self-taught study, a restless philosophical curiosity, and a profound grasp of the fundamentals of democracy. Now, in Lincoln: A Very Short Introduction, the award-winning Lincoln authority Allen C. Guelzo offers a penetrating look into the mind of one of our greatest presidents. If Lincoln was famous for reading aloud from joke books, Guelzo shows that he also plunged deeply into the mainstream of nineteenth-century liberal democratic thought. Guelzo takes us on a wide-ranging exploration of problems that confronted Lincoln and liberal democracy--equality, opportunity, the rule of law, slavery, freedom, peace, and his legacy. The book sets these problems and Lincoln's responses against the larger world of American and trans-Atlantic liberal democracy in the 19th century, comparing Lincoln not just to Andrew Jackson or John Calhoun, but to British thinkers such as Richard Cobden, Jeremy Bentham, and John Bright, and to French observers Alexis de Tocqueville and François Guizot. The Lincoln we meet here is an Enlightenment figure who struggled to create a common ground between a people focused on individual rights and a society eager to establish a certain moral, philosophical, and intellectual bedrock. Lincoln insisted that liberal democracy had a higher purpose, which was the realization of a morally right political order. But how to interject that sense of moral order into a system that values personal self-satisfaction--"the pursuit of happiness"--remains a fundamental dilemma even today. Abraham Lincoln was a man who, according to his friend and biographer William Henry Herndon, "lived in the mind." Guelzo paints a marvelous portrait of this Lincoln--Lincoln the man of ideas--providing new insights into one of the giants of American history. About the Series: Combining authority with wit, accessibility, and style, Very Short Introductions offer an introduction to some of life's most interesting topics. Written by experts for the newcomer, they demonstrate the finest contemporary thinking about the central problems and issues in hundreds of key topics, from philosophy to Freud, quantum theory to Islam.
Tony Wright's Very Short Introduction to British Politics is an interpretative essay on the British political system, rather than an abbreviated textbook on how it currently works. He identifies key characteristics and ideas of the British tradition, and investigates what makes British politics distinctive, while emphasizing throughout how these characteristics are reflected in the way the political system functions. Each chapter is organized around a key theme, such as the constitution or political accountability, which is first established and then explored with examples and illustrations. In this new edition Wright considers how the system has recently changed and continues to do so, in light of the coalition government and the fall of New Labour, as well as the impact of the financial crisis and issues such as terrorism and immigration. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.
As well as being a remarkable statesman and one of the world's longest-detained political prisoners, Nelson Mandela has become an exemplary figure of non-racialism and democracy, a moral giant. Once a man with an unknown face, he became after his 1994 release one of the most internationally recognizable images of our time. Set within a biographical frame, this Very Short Introduction explores the reasons why his story is so important to us in the world at large today, and what his achievements signify. It shows how our picture of Mandela is a great deal more complicated than the legend suggests: quality of character is combined with his talents as a performer, his maverick ability to absorb transnational influences, his proximity to outstanding colleagues, his steely survival skills, and his postmodern ease with media image. It shows how many different interconnected stories, histories, values, and symbols combine in the famous name Nelson Mandela. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.
Welfare states vary across nations and change over time. And the balance between markets and government; free enterprise and social protection is perennially in question. But all developed societies have welfare states of one kind or another - they are a fundamental dimension of modern government. And even after decades of free-market criticism and reform, their core institutions have proven resilient and popular. This Very Short Introduction describes the modern welfare state, explaining its historical and contemporary significance and arguing that far from being 'a failure' or 'a problem', welfare states are an essential element of contemporary capitalism, and a vital concomitant of democratic government. In this accessible and entertaining account, David Garland cuts through the fog of misunderstandings to explain in clear and simple terms, what welfare states are, how they work, and why they matter. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.
Offering a practical and historical perspective on socialism this work explains the evolution of socialist ideas from the French Revolution, and examines why past attempts to implement socialism might have failed.
"American Political History : A Very Short Introduction captures the richness of American political history, focusing primarily on national politics. It explores the nature of the two-party system, key turning points in American political history, representative presidential and congressional elections, struggles to expand the electorate, and critical social protest and third-party movements"--Provided by publisher
Introduces major topics in ancient Greek civilization through the development of eleven characteristic city states, ranging from prehistoric Cnossos through Byzantion, and including the future Marseilles as well as Athens and Sparta.
A lively and informative short volume that shows that France is not a faded glory but rather a place that has defined and shaped the key issues of our contemporary world, such as democracy and universal human rights, the emergence of a culture of consumerist spectacle, the tensions between nationalism and contemporary multiculturalism, and the role of religion in the modern state.
The concept of law lies at the heart of our social and political life, shaping the character of our community and underlying issues from racism and abortion to human rights and international war. But what actually is law? A set of naturally occurring moral principles, or simply rules agreed by a particular society? What is a 'right' and what rights should people actually have? Is law really colour-blind and gender-blind? Can the law truly tell us whether gay marriages are immoral, what's wrong with racism, or whether we should go to war? Revealing the intriguing and challenging nature of legal philosophy with clarity and enthusiasm, Raymond Wacks explores the notion of law and its role in our lives. Referring to key thinkers from Aristotle to Rawls, Bentham, Dworkin, H.L.A. Hart and Derrida, he looks at the central questions behind legal theory that have fascinated lawyers and philosophers - and anyone - who ever wondered about law's relation to justice, morality, and democracy. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.
The word 'governance' is ubiquitous. The World Bank and the International Monetary Fund make loans conditional on 'good governance'. Climate change and avian flu appear as issues of 'global governance'. The European Union issues a White Paper on 'Governance'. The U.S. Forest Service calls for 'collaborative governance'. What accounts for the pervasive use of the term 'governance' and to what does it refer? It has a bewildering set of answers. The word 'governance' is used in a variety of contexts, but at a general level, it refers to all forms of social coordination and patterns of rule. In this Very Short Introduction, Mark Bevir considers not only the main theories of governance, but also their impact in a variety of areas including corporate, public, and global affairs. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.
Environmental politics has many faces and operates at multiple scales: it preoccupies individuals as well as governments, drives local agreements as well as international treaties, results in minor business changes as well as wholesale business decisions, and fluctuates between a politics of protest and one of accommodation. In this Very Short Introduction Andrew Dobson offers a lively and comprehensive commentary on the many facets of environmental politics today. Looking towards the future, he asks whether environmental politics will be comfortably accommodated by mainstream politics, or whether the advent of the Anthropocene - a whole new geological epoch driven by human impact on the environment - will herald a break with the politics of growth that has dominated social life since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.
Michael Freeden explores the concept of liberalism, one of the longest-standing and central political theories and ideologies. Combining a variety of approaches, he distinguishes between liberalism as a political movement, as a system of ideas, and as a series of ethical and philosophical principles.
Populism is a central concept in the current media debates about politics and elections. However, like most political buzzwords, the term often floats from one meaning to another, and both social scientists and journalists use it to denote diverse phenomena. What is populism really? Who are the populist leaders? And what is the relationship between populism and democracy? This book answers these questions in a simple and persuasive way, offering a swift guide to populism in theory and practice. Cas Mudde and Cristobal Rovera Kaltwasser present populism as an ideology that divides society into two antagonistic camps, the "pure people" versus the "corrupt elite," and that privileges the general will of the people above all else. They illustrate the practical power of this ideology through a survey of representative populist movements of the modern era: European right-wing parties, left-wing presidents in Latin America, and the Tea Party movement in the United States. The authors delve into the ambivalent personalities of charismatic populist leaders such as Juan Domingo Peron, H. Ross Perot, Jean-Marie le Pen, Silvio Berlusconi, and Hugo Chavez. If the strong male leader embodies the mainstream form of populism, many resolute women, such as Eva Peron, Pauline Hanson, and Sarah Palin, have also succeeded in building a populist status, often by exploiting gendered notions of society. Although populism is ultimately part of democracy, populist movements constitute an increasing challenge to democratic politics. Comparing political trends across different countries, this compelling book debates what the long-term consequences of this challenge could be, as it turns the spotlight on the bewildering effect of populism on today's political and social life. "
This book is an introduction to modern formal logic. It is not a text book, however, but explores the philosophical roots of the subject. Each chapter takes some philosophical problem or logical conundrum, and explains how it may be handled in light of modern logic.