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  • DAVID M. CRAIG (a1)

Recent claims about the convergence in methodology between ‘high politics’ and the ‘new political history’ remain unclear. The first part of this review examines two deeply entrenched misunderstandings of key works of high politics from the 1960s and 1970s, namely that they proposed elitist arguments about the ‘closed’ nature of the political world, and reductive arguments about the irrelevance of ‘ideas’ to political behaviour. The second part traces the intellectual ancestry of Maurice Cowling's thinking about politics, and places it within an interpretative tradition of social science. The formative influences of R. G. Collingwood and Michael Oakeshott are examined, and Mark Bevir's Logic of the history of ideas is used to highlight how Cowling's approach can be aligned with ‘new political history’.

Corresponding author
Department of History, Durham University, 43 North Bailey, Durham, DH1
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I am grateful to Philip Williamson for the loan of various materials, and for comments on earlier versions of this review.

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This list contains references from the content that can be linked to their source. For a full set of references and notes please see the PDF or HTML where available.

D. Wahrman , ‘The new political history: a review essay’, Social History, 21, (1996), pp. 343–54

L. Black , ‘Popular politics in modern British history’, Journal of British Studies, 40, (2001), pp. 431–45

S. Fielding , ‘Looking for the “new political history”’, Journal of Contemporary History, 42, (2007), pp. 515–24

R. Brent , ‘Butterfield's Tories: “High politics” and the writing of modern British history’, Historical Journal, 30, (1987), pp. 947–8

R. Crowcroft , ‘Maurice Cowling and the writing of British political history’, Contemporary British History, 22, (2008), pp. 279–86

A. Jones , ‘Where “governing is the use of words”’, Historical Journal, 19 (1976), p. 252

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The Historical Journal
  • ISSN: 0018-246X
  • EISSN: 1469-5103
  • URL: /core/journals/historical-journal
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