Skip to main content

Political Theory and the Modern State



Political Theory and the Modern State

David Held

ISBN: 978-0-745-66710-2 April 2013 Polity 276 Pages


This volume offers an incisive overview of central issues and controversies in political thought and analysis. It includes major discussions of the idea of the modern state, contemporary theories of the state, problems of power and legitimation, new forms of democratic ideal, citizenship and social movements, the direction of public policy and the fate of sovereignty in the modern global system. While analysing these topics, the author critically assesses the thought of many of those who have contributed decisively to political discussion. Among those whose works are discussed are classic figures such as Hobbes, Locke, Mill and Marx, as well as contemporary writers such as Habermas, Offe and Giddens.

Political Theory and the Modern State is an ideal resource for students seeking an introduction to modern politics and political sociology. It is also an original statement about the many competing perspectives in political thought today.



1. Central Perspectives on the Modern State.

2. Class, Power and the State.

3. Legitimation Problems and Crisis Tendencies.

4. Power and Legitimacy.

5. Liberalism, Marxism and the Future Direction of Public Policy.

6. The Contemporary Polarization of Democratic Theory:.

The Case for a Third Way.

7. Citizenship and Autonomy.

8. Sovereignty, National Politics and the Global System.

9. A Discipline of Politics?.


'Held brings ... clarity, conviction and breadth of scholarship to bear on a range of topics. Throughout, the breadth of Held's scholarship is matched by his impassioned commitment to the values of 'democratic autonomy'.' Political Studies

'Students seeking an introduction to the political sociology of the modern state, that challenges much conventional wisdom as well as provides model reviews of such wisdom, need look no further.' Keith Grint, Sociological Review

'Anyone concerned with the present state of political and social theory cannot afford to bypass this excellent collection.' Henri Lustiger-Thaler, Canadian Journal of Political Science

'Broad vision and analytical muscle.' Network

'... a timely review of the state of society and the state of the state. ... particularly impressive is Held's ability to marshal sophisticated and complex arguments without descending into the kind of contorted prose beloved of social scientists ...' Sociological Review

1. Wide ranging introduction to political theory and political sociology 2. Develops a novel account of British politics and problems facing the British State today 3. Offers an original account of how democracy might be transformed 4. Volume is an ideal companion to undergraduate studies in politics