Social Theory (2017)

Awarded to Dr Dominic Holland for his essay:

‘The Nature of the Political Reconsidered’


I present an immanent, and explanatory, critique of reflections on the nature of politics and of power within political science. I argue that these reflections are problematic, to the extent that they presuppose an actualist conception of the political, and that this is generated by an empiricist way of thinking on the one hand and a constructivist way of thinking on the other. I show how re-defining politics, power, and the political on the basis of a dialectical critical realist ontology resolves these problems and, thereby, allows us to understand the conditions for social change and the relationship between the political and the economic. My argument has two, important implications: first, that the proposal that those who study politics professionally should celebrate philosophical diversity is dangerous – at least if it makes it difficult to sustain a distinct, emancipatory form of political inquiry; and, second, that the nature of social reality justifies the need both for specialized forms of inquiry, such as politics and economics, and integrative forms of inquiry, such as political economy.

Dr Dominic Holland

Research Assistant, College of Business Law & Social Sciences, Nottingham Trent University