Skip to main content

Research Repository

Advanced Search


O'Sullivan, Noël


Noël O'Sullivan


Michael Freeden

Marc Stears


Conservative ideology in its moderate form is inspired by opposition to belief in radical political and social change on the ground that it rests on several mistaken assumptions, of which the most important are that human nature is highly malleable; that human will can refashion history in whatever ways human ideals may require; that society is the artificial product of a contract between autonomous individuals; and that evil is an eliminable feature of human existence. The unifying theme of conservative ideology, by contrast, is a defence of limited politics, although different schools of conservatism have theorized the concept of limit in ways that are incompatible and even incoherent. Of these, the four principal schools are the reactionary, the radical, the moderate, and, more recently, the New Right. This chapter examines the degree of coherence achieved by each of these schools of thought.


O'Sullivan, N. (2013). Conservatism. In M. Freeden, & M. Stears (Eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Political Ideologies. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Publication Date Dec 16, 2013
Deposit Date Dec 19, 2014
Journal The Oxford handbook of political ideologies
Publisher Oxford University Press
Peer Reviewed Not Peer Reviewed
Book Title The Oxford Handbook of Political Ideologies
ISBN 978-0-19958-597-7
Keywords Will; Human malleability; Contract; Evil; Limited politics; Reactionary school; Radical school; Moderate school; New Right
Public URL
Publisher URL

You might also like

Downloadable Citations