Political Ideologies

An introduction, fifth edition

by Andrew Heywood


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A form of government in which political power is concentrated in the hands of a single individual or small group, in particular, an absolute monarchy.

Affirmative action

Policies or programmes that are designed to benefit disadvantaged minority groups (or, potentially, women) by affording them special assistance.


To be separated from one's genuine or essential nature; used by Marxists to describe the process whereby, under capitalism, labour is reduced to being a mere commodity.


Concern for the interests and welfare of others, based either upon enlightened self-interest or a belief in a common humanity.


The possession of both male and female characteristics; used to imply that human beings are sexless ‘persons' in the sense that sex is irrelevant to their social role or political status.

Animal rights

Moral entitlements that are based on the belief that as animals are non-human ‘persons', they deserve the same consideration (at least in certain areas) as human beings.


A weakening of values and normative rules, associated with feelings of isolation, loneliness and meaninglessness.


A belief that human needs and interests are of overriding moral and philosophical importance; the opposite of ecocentrism


(Afrikaans) Literally, ‘apartness'; a system of racial segregation practiced in South Africa after 1948.


A belief in the imminent end of the world (as we know it), often associated with the return of a supreme or god-like figure, denoting final salvation and purification.


The abandonment of one's religious faith, sometimes applied to a cause, a set of principles or a political party.


The belief that the Aryans, or German people, are a ‘master race', destined for world domination.


The process through which immigrant communities lose their cultural distinctiveness by adjusting to the values, allegiances and lifestyles of the ‘host' society.


A belief that society is made up of a collection of self-interested and largely self-sufficient individuals, or atoms, rather than social groups.


Economic self-sufficiency, brought about either through expansionism aimed at securing markets and sources of raw materials or by withdrawal from the international economy.


A belief that strong central authority, imposed from above, is either desirable or necessary, and therefore demands un­questioning obedience. (see p. 79).


The right to exert influence over others by virtue of an acknowledged obligation to obey.


Literally, self-government; the ability to control one's own destiny by virtue of enjoying independence from external influences.


Bill of rights

A constitutional document that specifies the rights and freedoms of the individual and so defines the relationship between the state and its citizens.

Biocentric equality

The principle that all organisms and entities in the biosphere are of equal moral worth, each being an expression of the goodness of nature.


The range of species within a biotic community, often thought to be linked to its health and stability.


The belief that the territorial organization of economic, social and political like should take account of the ecological integrity of bio-regions.

Bourgeois ideology

A Marxist term denoting ideas and theories that serve the interests of the bourgeoisie by disguising the contradictions of capitalist society.

Bourgeois state

A Marxist term denoting a state that is bound to the interests of the bourgeoisie, and so perpetuates a system of unequal class power.


A Marxist term denoting the ruling class of a capitalist society, the owners of productive wealth.



An economic system in which wealth is owned by private individuals or businesses and goods are produced for exchange, according to the dictates of the market.


Charm or personal power; the ability to inspire loyalty, emotional dependence or even devotion in others.


Uncritical and unreasoned dedication to a cause or group, typically based on a belief in its superiority, as in ‘national chauvinism' or ‘male chauvinism'.

Christian democracy

An ideological tradition within European conservatism that is characterized by a commitment to the social market and qualified economic intervention.


Membership of a state: a relationship between the individual and the state based on reciprocal rights and responsibilities.

Civic conservatism

A form of conservatism, rooted in social conservatism, that calls for a transformation of the civic culture to counter-balance what are seen as the ‘excesses' of state control and the free market.

Civic nationalism

A form of nationalism that emphasizes political allegiance based on a vision of a community of equal citizens, allowing respect for ethnic and cultural diversity that does not challenge core civic values.

Civil liberty

The private sphere of existence, belonging to the citizen not to the state; freedom from government.

Civil society

A realm of autonomous associations and groups, formed by private citizens and enjoying independence from the government; civil society includes businesses, clubs, families and so on.

Clash of civilizations

The theory that, in the post-Cold War world, conflict would not be primarily ideological and economic, but rather cultural in character.

Class consciousness

A Marxist term denoting an accurate awareness of class interests and a willingness to pursue them; a class-conscious class is a class-for-itself.

Classical liberalism

A tradition within liberalism that seeks to maximize the realm of unconstrained individual action, typically by establishing a minimal state and a reliance on market economics.


The abolition of private property and the establishment of a comprehensive system of common or public ownership, usually through the mechanisms of the state.


The theory or practice of establishing control over a foreign territory, usually by settlement or economic domination.

Commercial liberalism

A form of liberalism that emphasizes the economic and international benefits of free trade, leading to mutual benefit and general prosperity, as well as peace among states.


The principle of the common ownership of wealth, or a system of comprehensive collectivization; communism is often viewed as ‘Marxism in practice' (see pp. 116–25).


The belief that peoples' identities and values are constituted through the community in the sense that there are no ‘unencumbered selves' (see p. 135).

Competition state

A state whose principal role is to pursue strategies for national prosperity in conditions of intensifying global competition.


Strategies to remodel social identity and challenge cultural inferiority by an emphasis on pride, self-worth and self-assertion.


A borad agreement on fundamental principles that allows for disagreement on matters of emphasis or detail.


Assent or permission; in politics, usually an agreement to be governed or ruled.


A form of power sharing involving a close association amongst a number of parties or political formations, typically used in deeply divided societies.


The theory that meaning is imposed on the external world by the beliefs and assumptions we hold; reality is a social construct.

Consumer sovereignty

The notion, based on the theory of competitive capitalism, that consumer choice is the ultimately determining factor within a market economy


A psychic and social phenomenon whereby personal happiness is equated with the consumption of material possessions.


Working together; collective effort intended to achieve mutual benefit.


The belief that the world constitutes a single moral, and possibly political, community, in that people have obligations towards all other people in the world (see p. 196).

Cultural feminism

A forfm of feminism tha emphasizes an engagement with a woman-centred culture and life-style and is typically repelled by the corrupting and aggressive male world of political activism.

Cultural nationalism

A form of nationalism that places primary emphasis on the regeneration of the nation as a distinctive civilization rather than on self-government.


The belief that human beings are culturally-defined creatures, culture being the universal basis for personal and social identity.


Beliefs, values and practices that are passed on from one generation to the next through learning; culture is distinct from nature.


Deep diversity

Diversity that rejects the idea of objective or ‘absolute' standards and so is based on moral relativism.

Deep ecology

A green ideological perspective that rejects anthropo­centrism and gives priority to the maintenance of nature,and is associated with values such as biocentric equality, diversity and decentralization.


Rule by the people; democracy implies both popular participation and government in the public interest, and can take a wide variety of forms (see p. 41).

Democratic centralism

The Leninist principle of party organization, based on a supposed balance between freedom of discussion and strict unity of action.


A process of development in which inter­action between two opposing forces leads to a further or higher stage; historical change resulting from internal contradictions within a society.

Dialectical materialism

The crude and deterministic form of Marxism that dominated intellectual life in orthodox communist states.

Dictatorship of the proletariat

A Marxist term denoting the transitionary phase between the collapse of capitalism and the establishment of full communism, characterized by the establishment of a proletarian state.

Difference feminism

A form of feminism that hold there are deep and possibly ineradicable differences between women and men, whether these are rooted in biology, culture or material experience.

Direct action

Political action taken outside the constitutional and legal framework; direct action may range from passive resistance to terrorism.

Direct democracy

Popular self-government, characterized by the direct and continuous participation of citizens in the tasks of government.


Human interaction, especially communication: discourse may disclose or illustrate power relations.

Divine right

The doctrine that earthly rulers are chosen by God and thus wield unchallengeable authority; divine right is a defence for monarchical absolutism.



A theoretical orientation that gives priority to the maintenance of ecological balance rather than the achievement of human ends.

Ecological stewardship

The notion that each generation has a duty to protect and conserve the natural environment for the benefit of generations to come.


The study of the relationship between living organisms and the environment; ecology stresses the network of relationships that sustains all forms of life.

Economic liberalism

A belief in the market as a self-regulating mechanism that tends naturally to deliver general prosperity and opportunities for all (see pp. 46–8).


A theory or practice based on the desire to promote equality; egalitarianism is sometimes seen as the belief that equality is the primary political value.


A belief in rule by an elite or minority; elite rule may be thought to be desirable (the elite having superior talents or skills) or inevitable, (egalitarianism simply being impractical).

Enlightenment, the

An intellectual movement that reached its height in the eighteenth century and challenged traditional beliefs in religion, politics and learning in general in the name of reason and progress.


A tendency towards decay or disintegration, exhibited by all ‘closed' systems.


A concern about the natural environment and particularly about reducing environmental degradation: a policy orientation rather than an ideological stance (unlike ecologism).


The principle that human beings are of identical worth or are entitled to be treated in the same way; equality can have widely differing applications.

Equality feminism

A form of feminism that aspires to the goal of sexual equality, whetherthis is defined in terms of formal rights, the control of resources, or personal power.

Equality of opportunity

Equality defined in terms of life chances or the existence of a ‘level playing-field'.


The belief that biological factors are crucial in determining psychlogical and behavioural traits.

Ethnic cleansing

A euphemism that refers to the forcible expulsion of an ethnic group or groups in the cause of racial purity, often involving genocidal violence.

Ethnic nationalism

A form of nationalism that is fuelled primarily by a keen sense of ethnic distinctiveness and the desire to preserve it.


A sentiment of loyalty towards a particular population, cultural group or territorial area; bonds that are cultural rather than racial.

Ethnocultural nationalism

A form of nationalism that is fuelled primarily by a keen sense of ethnic and cultural distinctiveness and the desire to preserve it.


the application of values and theories drawn from European culture to other groups and peoples, implying a biased or distorted worldview.


The theory or practice of selective breeding, achieved either by promoting procreation amongst ‘fit' members of a species or by preventing procreation by the ‘unfit'.


A form of deradicalized communism, most influential in the 1970s, which attempted to blend Marxism with liberal-democratic principles.


The theory or practice of spreading (in origin, Christian) religious beliefs, usually through missionary campaigns.


False consciousness

A Marxist term denoting the delusion and mystification that prevents subordinate classes from recog­nizing the fact of their own exploitation


A territorial distribution of power based on the sharing of sovereignty between central (usually national) bodies and regional or provincial ones.


A system of agrarian-based production that is characterized by fixed social hierarchies and a rigid pattern of obligations.

First-wave feminism

The early form of feminism which developed in the mid-nineteenth century and was based on the pursuit of sexual equality in the areas of political and legal rights, particularly suffrage rights.

Formal equality

Equality based on people's status in society, especially their legal and political rights (legal and political equality).

Fossil fuels

Fuels that are formed from the decomposition of buried dead organisms, making them rich in carbon; examples include oil, natural gas and coal.


The belief that it is possible to establish objective truths and universal values, usually associated with a strong faith in progress.


Literally, brotherhood; bonds of sympathy and comradeship between and amongst human beings.

Free trade

A system of trading between states that is unrestricted by tariffs or other forms of protectionism.

Freedom (or liberty)

The ability to think or act as one wishes, a capacity that can be associated with the individual, a social group or a nation (see p. 30).

Free market

The principle or policy of unfettered market competition, free from government interference.

Free trade

A system of trade between states not restricted by tariffs or other forms of protectionism.


The theory that social institutions and practices should be understood in terms of the functions they carry out in sustaining the larger social system.

Fundamentalist socialism

A form of socialism that seeks to abolish capitalism and replace it with a qualitatively different kind of society.


An early twentieth-century movement in the arts that glorified factories, machinery and industrial life generally.


A concern about the future, implying that actions in the present should be judged by their impact on posterity or future generations.



A social and cultural distinction between males and females, as opposed to sex, which refers to biological and therefore ineradicable differences between men and women.


The attempt to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group.


Progress brought about by gradual, piecemeal improvements, rather than dramatic upheaval; change through legal and peaceful reform.

Green capitalism

The idea that a reliance on the capitalist market mechanism will deliver ecologically sustainable outcomes, usually linked to assumptions about capitalism's consumer responsiveness.

General will

The genuine interests of a collective body, equivalent to the common good; the will of all provided each person acts selflessly.


The machinery through which collective decisions are made on behalf of the state, usually comprising a legislature, executive and judiciary.

Green politics

A political ideology (sometimes called ecologism, political ecology or ‘greenism') that gives priority to the promotion of ecological sustainability.



The ascendency or domination of one element of a system over others; for Marxists, hegemony implies ideological domination.


A gradation of social positions or status; hierarchy implies structural or fixed inequality in which position is unconnected with individual ability.

Historical materialism

A Marxist theory that holds that material or economic conditions ultimately structure law, politics, culture and other aspects of social existence.


A belief that the whole is more important than its parts; holism implies that understanding is gained by studying relationships among the parts.

Human nature

The essential and innate character of all human beings: what they owe to nature rather than to society (see p. 71).


A philosophy that gives moral priority to the satisfaction of human needs and aspirations.

Gaia hypothesis

The theory that the Earth is best understood as a living entity that acts to maintain its own existence.


The tendency of a system, especially the physiological systems of higher animals, to maintain internal equilibrium.

Humanitarian intervention

Military intervention in the affairs of another state that is carried out in pursuit of humanitarian rather than strategic objectives.

Human development

A standard of human well-being that reflects people's ability to lead fulfilled and creative lives, taking account of factors such as life expectancy, education, ecological sustainability and gender equality.


A condition of social and cultural mixing in which people develop multiple identities.



The extension of control by one country over another, whether by overt political means or through economic domination.


The process through which a nation is liberated from foreign rule, usually involving the establishment of sovereign statehood.


A belief in the central importance of the human individual as opposed to social groups or collective bodies (see p. 28).


Self-fulfilment achieved through the realization of an individual's distinctive or unique identity or qualities; that which distinguishes one person from all others.

Integral nationalism

An intense, even hysterical, form of nationalist enthusiasm, in which individual identity is absorbed within the national community.



(Arabic) An Islamic term literally meaning ‘struggle'; includes the struggle against one's own soul (greater jihad) and external, physical effort or even ‘holy war' (lesser jihad).


A mood of nationalist enthusiasm and public celebration provoked by military expansion or imperial conquest.


A moral standard of fairness and impartiality; social justice is the notion of a fair or justifiable distribution of wealth and rewards in society.


Knowledge economy

An economy in which knowledge is supposedly the key source of competitiveness and productivity, especially in the form of information and communication technology.



A tendency exhibited by socialist parties to serve the interests of the organized labour movement rather than pursue broader ideological goals.


Literally, ‘leave to do'; the doctrine that economic activity should be entirely free from government interference.


Established and public rules of social conduct, backed up by the machinery of the state the police, courts and prisons.


Lenin's theoretical contributions to Marxism, notably his belief in the need for a revolutionary or ‘vanguard' party to raise the proletariat to class consciousness.

Liberal feminism

A form of feminism that is grounded in the belief that sexual differences are irrelevant to personal worth, and calls for equal rights for women and men in the public sphere.


A belief that the individual should enjoy the widest possible realm of freedom; libertarianism implies the removal of both external and internal constraints upon the individual (see p. 85).



The theory that a governing class of managers, technocrats and state officials – those who possess technical and administrative skills – dominates both capitalist and communist societies.


A third-century Persian religion that presented the world in terms of conflict between light and darkness, and good and evil.


A belief in majority rule; majoritarianism implies either that the majority dominates the minority, or that the minority should defer to the judgement of the majority.


A system of commercial exchange between buyers and sellers, controlled by impersonal economic forces: ‘market forces'.

Market fundamentalism

An absolute faith in the market, reflecting the belief that the market mechanism offers solutions to all economic and social problems.


An emphasis on material needs and their satisfaction, usually implying a link between pleasure or happiness and the level of material consumption.


A school of economic thought that emphasizes the state's role in managing international trade and delivering prosperity.


Literally, rule by those with merit, merit being intelligence plus effort; a society in which social position is determined exclusively by ability and hard work.


The branch of philosophy that is concerned with explaining the fundamental nature of existence, or being.


Heightened or extreme commitment; a level of zeal and passion typically associated with struggle or war.


The achievement of ends by military means, or the extension of military ideas, values and practices to civilian society.


A belief in a thousand-year period of divine rule; political millenarianism offers the prospect of a sudden and complete emancipation from misery and oppression.

Mixed economy

An economy in which there is a mixture of publicly owned and privately owned industries.

Modern liberalism

A tradition within liberalism that provides (in contrast to classical liberalism) a qualified endorsement for social and economic intervention as a means of promoting personal development.

Modernist ecology

A reformist tendency within green politics that seeks to reconcile ecology with the key features of capitalist modernity.


A belief in only one theory or value; monism is reflected politically in enforced obedience to a unitary power and is thus implicitly totalitarian.


A system of fair and equitable exchange, in which individuals or groups bargain with one another, trading goods and services without profiteering or exploitation.



A collection of people bound together by shared values and traditions, a common language, religion and history, and usually occupying the same geographical area (see pp. 173–6).


A sovereign political association within which citizenship and nationality overlap; one nation within a single state.


The extension of state or public ownership over private assets or industries, either individual enterprises or the entire economy (often called collectivization).

Natural aristocracy

The idea that talent and leadership are innate or inbred qualities that cannot be acquired through effort or self-advancement.

Natural rights

God-given rights that are fundamental to human beings and are therefore inalienable (they cannot be taken away).

Natural selection

The theory that species go through a process of random mutations that fits some to survive (and possibly thrive) while others become extinct.

Negative freedom

The absence of external restrictions or constraints on the individual, allowing freedom of choice.


Economic domination that is exerted over foreign territory without extending to direct political control.


A modern version of social conservatism that emphasizes the need to restore order, return to traditional or family values or revitalize nationalism.


An updated version of classical political economy that is dedicated to market individualism and minimal statism (see p. 50).

New left

An ideological movement that sought to revitalize socialist thought by developing a radical critique of advanced industrial society, stressing the need for decentralization, participation and personal liberation.


An updated and revised form of Marxism that rejects determinism, the primacy of economics and the privileged status of the proletariat.

New politics

A style of politics that distrusts representative mechanism and bureaucratic processes in favour of strategies of popular mobilization and direct action.

New right

An ideological trend within conservatism that embraces a blend of market individualism and social authoritarianism.


Literally a belief in nothing; the rejection of all moral and political principles.



(In this sense) to feel hurt, even humiliated; an injury against one's deepest beliefs.


A belief that society operates like an organism or living entity, the whole being more than a collection of its individual parts.


Strict adherence to an established or traditional view, usually enjoying ‘official' sanction or support.



A commitment to peace and a rejection of war or violence in any circumstances (‘pacific' derives from the Latin and means ‘peace-making').


A style of nationalism that is dedicated to unifying a disparate people either through expansionism or political solidarity (‘pan' means all or every).

Papal infallibility

The Catholic doctrine that, being God's spokesperson on Earth, the Pope's teachings are infallable and therefore unquestionable.


A related set of principles, doctrines and theories that help to structure the process of intellectual enquiry.


The belief that historical, cultural and other differences between people and societies are more significant than what they have in common.


A belief in the virtues of rural existence: simplicity, community and a closeness to nature, in contrast to the allegedly corrupting influence of urban and industrialized life.


Authority exercised from above for the guidance and support of those below, modelled on the relationship between fathers and children (see p. 81).


Literally, rule by the father; often used more generally to describe the dominance of men and subordination of women in society at large.


The willingness to allow people to make their own moral choices; permissiveness suggests that there are no authoritative values.


A belief in diversity or choice, or the theory that political power is or should be widely and evenly dispersed (see p. 330).

Political myth

A belief that has the capacity to provoke political action by virtue of its emotional power rather than through an appeal to reason.

Political nationalism

A form of nationalism that regards the nation as a natural political community, usually expressed through the idea of national self-determination.


A belief that popular instincts and wishes are the principal legitimate guide to political action, often reflecting distrust of or hostility towards political elites (see p. 291).

Positive discrimination

Preferential treatment towards a group designed to compensate its members for past disadvantage or

structural inequality.

Positive freedom

Self-mastery or self-realization; the achievement of autonomy or the development of human capacities.


An intellectual tradition, related to postmodernism (see p. 62), that emphasizes that all ideas and concepts are expressed in language that itself is enmeshed in complex relations of power.


Behaviour shaped in accordance with practical circumstances and goals rather than ideological objectives (see p. 72).


The disposition to protect natural systems, often implying keeping things ‘just as they are' and restricting the impact of humans on the environment.


The belief that nations are ancient and deep-rooted, fashioned, variously, out of psychology, culture and biology.


The transfer of state assets from the public to the private sector, reflecting a contraction of the state's responsibilities.

Progressive taxation

A system of taxation in which the rich pay a higher proportion of their income in tax than the poor.


A Marxist term denoting a class that subsists through the sale of its labour power; strictly speaking, the proletariat is not equivalent to the manual working class


The ownership of physical goods or wealth, whether by private individuals, groups of people or the state.

‘Pro-woman' feminism

A form of feminism that advances a positive image of women's attributes and propensities, usually stressing creativity, caring and human sympathy, and cooperation.



A collection of people who share a common genetic inheritance and are thus distinguished from others by biological factors.


A belief that racial divisions are politically significant,either because races should live apart or because they possess different qualities and are thus suited to different social roles (see p. 215).

Radical feminism

A form of feminism that holds gender divisions to be the most politically significant of social cleavages, and believes that they are rooted in the structures of domestic life.


A belief that the world can be understood and explained through the exercise of human reason, based upon assumptions about its rational structure.


A belief that moral or factual statements can only be judged in relation to their contexts, because there are no objective or ‘absolute' standards.


A body of beliefs about some kind of, usually ‘other worldly', transcendent reality; religions may be monotheistic, pantheistic or non-theistic.


The belief that a republic, in which supreme authority is vested in a body of citizens and is exercised by their representatives, is the ideal model of government.

Republican liberalism

A form of liberalism that highlights the benefits of republican government and, in particular, emphasizes the link between democracy and peace


The revision or reworking of a political theory that departs from earlier interpretations in an attempt to present a ‘corrected' view.

Revisionist socialism

A form of socialism that has revised its critique of capitalism and seeks to reconcile greater social justice with surviving capitalist forms.


A fundamental and irreversible change, often a brief but dramatic period of upheaval; systemic change.

Rule of law

The principle that all conduct and behaviour, of private citizens and government officials, should conform to a framework of law.

Ruling class

A Marxist term denoting the class that owns the means of production, and so wields economic and political power.



The belief that scientific method is the only value-free and objective means of establishing truth, and is applicable to all fields of learning.

Scriptural literalism

A belief in the literal truth of sacred texts, which, as the revealed word of God, have unquestionable authority.

Second-wave feminism

The form of feminism that emerged in the 1960s and 1970s, and was characterized by a more radical concern with ‘women's liberation', including, and perhaps especially, in the private sphere.


A belief that religion should not intrude into secular (worldly) affairs, usually reflected in the desire to separate church from state.


The spread of worldly or rationalist ideas and values in the place of religious or sacred ones.


An ‘inner', even quasi-spiritual, fulfilment that is achieved by transcending egoism and materialism.

Separation of powers

The principle that legislative, executive and judicial power should be separated through the construction of three independent branches of government.


The quest to secede from a larger political formation with a view to establishing an independent state.

Shallow diversity

Diversity that is confined by the acceptance of certain values and beliefs as ‘absolute' and therefore non-negotiable.

Shallow ecology

A green ideological perspective that harnesses the lessons of ecology to human needs and ends, and is associated with values such as sustainability and conservation.


(Arabic) Literally, the ‘way' or ‘path'; divine Islamic law, based on principles expressed in the Koran.


A form of revolutionary trade unionism that is based on a crude notion of class war and emphasizes the use of direct action and the general strike.

Social class

A social division based on economic or social factors; a social class is a group of people who share a similar socio-economic position.

Social contract

A (hypothetical) agreement amongst individuals through which they form a state in order to escape from the disorder and chaos of the ‘state of nature'.

Social democracy

A moderate or reformist brand of socialism that favours a balance between the market and the state, rather than the abolition of capitalism.

Social ecology

A broad tendency within green politics that links ecological sustainability to or the eco-anarchist principle that human communities should be structured according to ecological principles.

Social inclusion

The acquisition of rights, skills and opportunities that enable citizens to participate fully in their society.

Social justice

A morally justifiable distribution of wealth, usually implying a commitment to greater equality.

Social market

An economy that is structured by market principles but which operates in the context of a society in which cohesion is maintained through a comprehensive welfare system and effective public services.

Social movement

A collective body distinguished by a high level of commitment and political activism, but often lacking clear organization.

Social revolution

A qualitative change in the structure of society; for Marxists a social revolution involves a change in the mode of production and the system of ownership.

Socialist feminism

A form of feminism that links the subordination of women to the dynamics of the capitalist economic system, emphasizing that women's liberation requires a process of radical social change.


The principle of absolute or unrestricted power expressed either as unchallengeable legal authority or unquestionable political power.


A belief in the superiority of one species over other species, through the denial of their moral significance.


A centrally planned economy supported by systematic and brutal political oppression, based on the structures of Stalin's Russia.

State of nature

A pre-political society characterized by unrestrained freedom and the absence of established authority.

State socialism

A form of socialism in which the state controls and directs economic life, acting, in theory, in the interests of the people.


The belief that the state is the most appropriate means of resolving problems and of guaranteeing economic and social development.


The ability of bodies with transnational or global jurisdictions to impose their will on nation-states.

Surplus value

A Marxist term denoting the value that is extracted from the labour of the proletariat by the mechanism of capitalist exploitation.


The capacity of a system to maintain its health and continue in existence over a period of time.


A collection of parts that operate through a network of reciprocal interactions and therby constitute a complex whole



The use of violence to induce a climate of fear or terror in order to further political ends; a clearly pejorative and usually subjective term (see p. 292).


The free-market/strong state ideological stance associated with Margaret Thatcher; the UK version of the new right political project.


Literally, rule by God; the principle that religious authority should prevail over political authority, usually through the domination of church over state.

Third way

The notion of an alternative form of economics to both state socialism and free-market capitalism, sought at different times by conservatives, socialists and fascists.


Forbearance; a willingness to accept views or action with which one is in disagreement.


An all-encompassing process of political rule in which the state penetrates and controls all social institutions, thus abolishing civil society and ‘private' life (see p. 212).

Totalitarian democracy

An absolute dictatorship that masquerades as a democracy, typically based on the leader's claim to a monopoly of ideological wisdom.


Values, practices or institutions that have endured through time and, in particular, been passed down from one generation to the next.

Tragedy of the commons

The theory that the ‘global commons' will be subject to inevitable degradation because individuals, businesses and states place self-interest before the collective good.

Transnational community

A community whose cultural identity, political allegiances and psychological orientations cut across or transcend national borders.

Transnational corporation

A company that controls economic activity in two or more countries, developing corporate strategies and processes that transcend national borders.


Group behaviour characterized by insularity and exclusivity, typically fuelled by hostility towards rival groups.



A classification of people who suffer from multiple forms of depriviation, and so are socially, politically and culturally marginalized.


The process through which a collection of separate political entities, usually sharing cultural characteristics, are integrated into a single state.


The belief that it is possible to uncover certain values and principles that are applicable to all people and all societies, regardless of historical, cultural and other differences.


Use-value; in economics, utility describes the satisfaction that is gained from the consumption of material goods and services.


A belief in the unlimited possibilities of human development, typically embodied in the vision of a perfect or ideal society, a utopia (see p. 147).


Value pluralism

The theory that there is no single, overriding conception of the ‘good life', but rather a number of competing and equally legitimate conceptions.


The theory that living organisms derive their characteristic properties from a universal ‘life-force'; vitalism implies an emphasis upon instinct and impulse rather than intellect and reason.


A theory that empahasizes free will and personal commitment, rather than any form of determinism.


(German) Literally, the spirit of the people; the organic identity of a people reflected in their culture and particularly in their language.


Washington consensus

A neoliberal framework embraced since the 1980s by key Washington-based international institutions, reflecting support for fiscal discipline, privatization and financial and trade liberalization.

Welfare state

A state that takes primary responsibility for the social welfare of its citizens, discharged through a range of social-security, health, education and other services.


(German) Literally, a ‘world-view'; a distinctive, even unique, set of presuppositions that structure how a people understands and engages emotionally with the world.

West, the

The parts of the world that are distinguished culturally by common Greco-Roman and Christian roots, socially by the dominance of industrial capitalism, and politically by the prevalence of liberal democracy.

Written constitution

A single authoritative document that defines the duties, powers and functions of government institutions and so consitutues ‘higher' law.



A fear or hatred of foreigners; pathological ethnocentrism.