From the nineteenth century to the present day, what we call social theorising has inevitably involved political analysis. Issues such as the role of the state, the nature of power and resistance, and the political means of social transformation are integral to understanding society. Despite this, I remain surprised at how sociologists and political scientists can regard each other’s subjects as alien species. While sociologists are often deeply enmeshed in broad political questions, they can be reluctant to engage with mainstream political ideas and practices. At the same time, there is no shortage of political scientists who treat the whole idea of the social with deep suspicion: a half-baked realm of woolly theories and jargon about the next big ‘change’ (typically ending in the letters ‘isation’). This is seen to detract from the business of understanding the machinations of elite actors, political institutions and the role of political ideas.
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