You are here

Encyclopedia of Political Theory

Encyclopedia of Political Theory

Three Volume Set
Edited by:
  • Mark Bevir - University of California, Berkeley, USA

March 2010 | 1 584 pages | SAGE Publications, Inc

For a free 30-day online trial to this title, visit

How do we arrange our collective affairs? Why do we live together in the ways we do? How ought we to live together? All humans think about the world they live in, its history and future, and the ideals by which they want to live in relation to others. How we think today decisively influences the world of tomorrow. This encyclopedia attempts to bring greater clarity and understanding to political debate.


Drawing together a team of international scholars, the Encyclopedia of Political Theory examines the ideas of the major political theorists from before Plato to our own times; the main schools of political thought; the concepts and issues that have captured the imagination and attention of political theorists; and some of the main institutions and practices inspired by political thought. With more than 450 entries, these three volumes provide a quick, one-stop source to key topics in the field.


Key Features

  • Examines the global landscape of all the key theories and the theorists behind them
  • Includes specific lists of entries that deal with constitutional thought and democratic thought
  • Refers to distinctive norms and features of various governments, legal systems, and societies
  • Devotes large parts to the history of ideas about government, ethics, and society
  • Provides a chronology of political theory to help readers see how a given theorist, school, or issue fits into the bigger historical picture


Key Themes

  • Ancient Thought
  • Applied Ethics
  • Biographies
  • Comparative Theory
  • Constitutional Thought
  • Critical Theory
  • Democratic Thought
  • Early Modern Thought
  • International Theory
  • Justice
  • Liberal Theory
  • Medieval Thought
  • Modern Theory
  • Power and Authority
  • Religious Thought
  • Self and Community


This work is designed to serve as a reference source for anyone interested in the roots of contemporary political theory. It will be a welcome addition to any academic or public library.

Paul Carrese
Common Law

".... Coverage of the field is broad and deep, with 475 signed entries written by more than 350 academics from institutions worldwide.... Entries range from less than a page in length (Essentialism, Subaltern) to eight-plus pages (Confucianism, Libertarianism) and include cross-references to related essays as well as suggestions for further reading.... The Encyclopedia of Political Theory is recommended for academic libraries and large public libraries."

Jan Lewis

"Bevir ... has done a super job editing this new encyclopedia, which thoroughly addresses the key themes found in contemporary political theory and its historical antecedents.... This set evidences a sense of balance and proportionality among its articles that can be hard to achieve.... Summing Up: Highly recommended. *** Lower-level undergraduates and above, general readers."-CHOICE

J.P. Renaud
University of Miami

"In this three-volume set, Bevir (Univ. of California, Berkeley) has assembled a useful tool for anyone researching political philosophy.... Bottom line While the general public might find it useful for research a political ideology or theory, college students majoring in political science will probably find it most useful. Libraries that own the Encyclopedia of Political Thought... might consider a newer book. Purchase if your budget permits." 

James Langan
Univ. of Pittsburgh Lib.
Library Journal
Key features
  • Three volumes containing approximately 500 signed entries provide users with the most thorough reference resource available on political theory, both in terms of breadth and depth of coverage.
  • An Editorial Board and impressive list of contrituring authors gathered experts from around the world to help ensure authoritative coverage and accuracy. 
  • A Reader's Guide groups entries thematically and entries are followed by Cross-References to ease navigation between and among related topics; plus, a detailed index and availability in electronic format further ease users' browse and search capabilities.
  • A Chronology of Political Theory allows students to easily chart directions and trends in political thought and theory from classical times to the present and to see how a given theorist, school or issue fits into the bigger historical picture.
  • Suggestions for Further Reading at the end of each entry and a Master Bibliography and annotated List of Web Resources at the end of the encyclopedia guide readers to sources for more detailed research and discussion.

Select a Purchasing Option

Rent or Buy eBook
ISBN: 9781506332727

ISBN: 9781412958653

This title is also available on SAGE Knowledge, the ultimate social sciences online library. If your library doesn’t have access, ask your librarian to start a trial.