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In this article I focus on those aspects of Keith Dowding’s book that are most concerned with interpretive approaches to the study of politics. I argue that, in ways not adequately captured by Dowding’s descriptions, the historical study of political concepts tells us something about their historical political effects and for this reason has a distinct value for how we think about and study politics. Furthermore, I argue, concepts of and about politics, including the concepts of political science, cannot be fully separated from the political contexts of which they are a part. Concepts which function as generalisable explanations at one point in time can shape the thinking and behaviour of political actors and thus be very particular causes. A philosophy or method of political science unaware of or inattentive to this dimension of politics and political science is incomplete.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)210-216
Number of pages7
JournalPolitical Studies Review
Issue number2
Early online date25 Apr 2017
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2017


  • Interpretivism
  • Political Science Methods
  • Dowding

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