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Ideologies and Political TheoryA Conceptual Approach$
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Michael Freeden

Print publication date: 1998

Print ISBN-13: 9780198294146

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2003

DOI: 10.1093/019829414X.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 31 July 2021

Theorizing About Conservative Ideology

Theorizing About Conservative Ideology

(p.317) 8 Theorizing About Conservative Ideology
Ideologies and Political Theory

Michael Freeden (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

Both conservatism and liberalism have, on one dimension, been accorded similar treatment by some of the salient schools of ideological analysis, in that they have been denied the status of a fully fledged ideology by those who would restrict the phenomenon to total, closed, and cohesive views of human beings in society. However, whereas liberals challenge, most conservative ideologists, as well as most exponents of conservative ideology, go out of their way to dispel any suspicion that theirs is an ideology. Obviously, if the notion of ideology is confined to an a priori, abstract, closed, and total system of mass‐consumed political thinking, then a creed that claims (as conservatism usually does) to be experiential, concrete, and delimited is not an ideology. Consideration of conservative thought, however, may query whether conservatives escape the features of that very definition of ideology, and it could not escape categorization within the approach that this book has already advanced: that of presenting ideology as a structural configuration of political concepts. After asking why there is such a dearth of capable and sophisticated enquiry into the nature of conservatism, this chapter addresses the issues outlined here in three sections: (a) [Michael] Oakeshott: conservatism à la carte; (b) The chameleon contra the status quo: two discarded theories; and (c) The conservative core: resolving a morphological puzzle.

Keywords:   conservatism, conservative theory, ideological morphology, ideology, Michael Oakeshott, political concepts, status quo

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