The british political tradition and the material-ideational debate

David MARSH, Matthew Hall

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)
4 Downloads (Pure)


Recently there has been a revival of interest in debates about the British political tradition. In part, this is a reflection of the 'ideational turn' in Anglophone comparative politics. However, this ideational turn immediately raises two of the most important meta-theoretical debates in social science; the relationships between institutions and ideas and the material and the ideational. In our view, anyone who suggests that political traditions shape political outcomes has to take a position on these debates, although they are rarely addressed. This article seeks to address that omission. We argue that, while the predominant ideas about democracy and political practice in the UK, what we term the British Political Tradition, do affect the institutions and processes of government, these ideas exist in a dialectical relationship with those institutions and, more broadly, with the material context within which the tradition, and indeed the institutions, operate(s).
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)125-142
Number of pages18
JournalThe British Journal of Politics and International Relations
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2016


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