Political Thinking, Political Theory, and Civil Society  book cover
4th Edition

Political Thinking, Political Theory, and Civil Society

ISBN 9781138643611
Published July 21, 2016 by Routledge
458 Pages

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Book Description

This comprehensive overview of the Western tradition of political thought approaches concepts with the aim of helping readers develop their own political thinking and critical thinking skills. This text is uniquely organized around the theme of civil society — what is the nature of a civil society? why is it important? — that will engage students and help make the material relevant. Major thinkers discussed in the text are explored not only with the goal of understanding their views, but also with an interest in understanding the relationship of their ideas to the notion of a civil society. DeLue and Dale contend that a civil society is important for securing the way of life that most of us value and want to preserve, a way of life that allows people to live freely and place significance on their own lives.

New to the Fourth Edition

  • Connects traditional political theory to contemporary challenges to civil society including new coverage of US electoral politics, the Black Lives Matter movement, Citizens United, and Robert Putnam’s view of the decline of social support systems.
  • Updates the coverage of feminism and feminist thinkers, including coverage of gay marriage, in the context of civil society.
  • Expands coverage of global civil society, especially in terms of contemporary challenges posed by ISIS, the failure of the Arab Spring, and ongoing humanitarian crises in Syria, Iran, and beyond.

Table of Contents

Preface  Introduction  1. The Importance of a Civil Society  Part I: Civil Society in the Classical and Religious Traditions  2. Plato: Civic Virtue And the Just Society Chapter  3. Aristotle’s Response to Plato: The Importance of Friendship Chapter  4. Christian Conceptions of Civic Virtue Chapter  5. Elements of Islamic and Jewish Medieval Political Thought  Part II: Early Modern Approaches to Civil Society  6. Niccolò Machiavelli: Civic Virtue and Civil Society  7. Thomas Hobbes and Modern Civil Society  8. Spinoza and Liberal Democracy  9. John Locke, Civil Society, and the Constrained Majority  10: Jean-Jacques Rousseau: Community and Civil Society  Part III: Late Modern and Contemporary Approaches to Civil Society  11. Kant: Civil Society and International Order  12. Hegel: Civil Society and the State  13. Marx and the Economic Argument About Civil Society  14. John Stuart Mill: Civil Society as a Higher Calling  15. John Rawls: The Just and Fair Civil Society  16. The Conservative View: Burke, Tocqueville, and Oakeshott  Part IV: Critiques of Civil Society  17. The Critique of Power in Civil Society: Friedrich Nietzsche’s and Michel Foucault  18. Feminist Responses to Civil Society  19. Multiculturalism and the Challenges of a Global Civil Society  20. Conclusion: Civil Society and Civic Renewal

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Steven M. DeLue is Professor Emeritus at Miami University of Ohio.

Timothy M. Dale is Associate Professor of Political Science and Public Administration at the University of Wisconsin--La Crosse.


DeLue and Dale actively engage students not only in the discourse of Western political theory, but most importantly how they think about civil society: how it is and how it ought to be. The readings allow students to critically explore the relationship between individual citizens and non-citizens, governments, and non-governmental groups that both frame and signify core values and issues without the polarization of popular politics today. Their approach allows students to question and develop their political ideas, which is the purpose of a liberal arts education.

JoAnne Myers, Marist College

Steven DeLue and Timothy Dale have produced a comprehensive textbook that lays an excellent foundation in political theory. Building on the success of previous editions, the authors brilliantly present a thorough, fair treatment of the political theory canon and beyond. Through the application of classical, modern and postmodern traditions in political philosophy to the core concept of civil society, DeLue and Dale accomplish what few other texts have been able to achieve: a textbook that is accessible, interesting and useful for students. This is the ideal textbook for teaching and learning political theory.

Joseph J. Foy, University of Wisconsin Colleges