The Cambridge Handbook of the Social Sciences in Australia

By Ian McAllister; Steve Dowrick et al. | Go to book overview

Chapter 13
Political Theory
Chandran Kukathas

Political theory in Australia is a not a single enterprise with a clearly definable ambit. Its practitioners include historians of ideas, philosophers wrestling with abstract political concepts (like justice or legitimacy), and political scientists concerned with the ethical dimensions of issues in public policy, as well as a variety of scholars from different disciplines who have reflected on general questions of political principle, social reform, or institutional design. A single chapter on political theory in Australia will thus necessarily be selective, since it cannot hope to discuss more than a fraction of the activities in the field.

At the same time, however, political theory is by nature parasitic on other disciplines in the social sciences and the humanities, since its ambit is so general – so even a discussion of a selective element of political theory in Australia will encroach on various aspects of political science, and the social sciences more generally. The aim of this chapter, then, is not to offer a guide to work by political theorists in Australia – or even the writings of political theorists about Australia – but to present an account of recent theoretical reflection on Australia: its politics and its institutions. The larger part of its purpose is to survey the work of others, particularly over the past ten years; but an important aspect of its concern is to offer some theoretical reflections of its own. This is, after all, what political theorists do.


Australian political thought and the Australian
political system

Australia has no significant tradition of theorising about its political institutions. While Britain can point to a long history of thought, from Hobbes to Oakeshott, discussing British institutions and the modern European state, and the United States has a political tradition that includes such names as Madison, Calhoun and Rawls, Australian reflection on the Australian polity cannot boast any such pedigree. This is not because such matters have never been tackled by Australian thinkers (Melleuish 1995). But there are no figures in this tradition whom even Australian political theorists consider worthy of regular study and teaching (though Greg Melleuish has argued that Bruce Smith's Liberty and Liberalism is

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The Cambridge Handbook of the Social Sciences in Australia
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page *
  • Contents v
  • Figures and Tables vii
  • Contributors x
  • Preface and Acknowledgements xviii
  • Introduction 1
  • References 13
  • Part 1 - Economics 15
  • Chapter 1 - Privatisation 17
  • References 27
  • Chapter 2 - Competition Policy and Regulation 31
  • References 40
  • Chapter 3 - Economics and the Environment 45
  • References 57
  • Chapter 4 - Health Economics 60
  • References 70
  • Chapter 5 - Immigration 74
  • References 87
  • Chapter 6 - Labour Market and Industrial Relations 94
  • References 113
  • Chapter 7 - Income Distribution and Redistribution 118
  • References 134
  • Chapter 8 - Taxation 138
  • References 148
  • Chapter 9 - Innovation 153
  • References 165
  • Chapter 10 - International Trade and Industry Policies 168
  • References 180
  • Chapter 11 - The Macro Economy 186
  • Notes 199
  • References 200
  • Chapter 12 - Money and Banking 203
  • References 216
  • Part 2 - Political Science 221
  • Chapter 13 - Political Theory 223
  • References 231
  • Chapter 14 - Federalism and the Constitution 234
  • References 246
  • Chapter 15 - Legislative Institutions 249
  • References 260
  • Chapter 16 - Political Parties and Electoral Behaviour 266
  • References 283
  • Chapter 17 - Electoral Systems 287
  • References 302
  • Chapter 18 - Gender Politics 305
  • References 319
  • Chapter 19 - Interest Groups and Social Movements 323
  • References 339
  • Chapter 20 - Environmental Policy and Politics 345
  • References 355
  • Chapter 21 - International Relations 358
  • Notes 368
  • References 369
  • Chapter 22 - Political Economy 374
  • References 391
  • Chapter 23 - Public Policy and Public Administration 406
  • References 422
  • Part 3 - Sociology 431
  • Chapter 24 - Patterns of Social Inequality 433
  • References 457
  • Chapter 25 - Families and Households 462
  • References 477
  • Chapter 26 - Gender Perspectives 480
  • References 493
  • Chapter 27 - Work and Employment 499
  • Notes 511
  • References 512
  • Chapter 28 - Crime and Deviance 518
  • References 531
  • Chapter 29 - Health and Illness 536
  • References 552
  • Chapter 30 - Population 554
  • References 569
  • Chapter 31 - Race, Ethnicity and Immigration 573
  • Notes 585
  • References 586
  • Chapter 32 - Urban and Regional Sociology 590
  • Reference 598
  • Chapter 33 - Rural Sociology 604
  • Reference 619
  • Chapter 34 - Religion and Spirituality 626
  • Reference 632
  • Chapter 35 - Cultural Studies, Australian Studies and Cultural Sociology 638
  • References 651
  • Chapter 36 - Sociological Theory 654
  • References 664
  • Chapter 37 - Social Policy and Social Welfare 666
  • References 674
  • Author Index 678
  • Subject Index 696
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