Michael Freeden

MA, DPhil (Oxon)

Emeritus Professor of Politics
Mansfield College

Emeritus Professor of Politics at Oxford University and Professorial Fellow at Mansfield College, where I engaged in teaching and research from 1978 until 2011. Former Director of the Centre for Political Ideologies at the DPIR and founding editor of the Journal of Political Ideologies. Professor of Politics, University of Nottingham, 2013-2015. Professorial Research Associate, SOAS, University of London, 2016- . ESRC Professorial Fellow from 2004 to 2007. Leverhulme Emeritus Fellow, 2016- .  FAcSS, FRHist.S.

Sir Isaiah Berlin Prize for Lifetime Contribution to Political Studies Award of the UK Political Studies Association, 2012.

Medal for Science, Institute of Advanced Studies, University of Bologna, 2012.

Michael Freeden


Currently D.Phil. supervisor in political theory

Research summary

My main interest is in the study of actual political thinking at various levels of articulation. Ideologies are the vehicles through which access to such political thinking invariably takes place, constituting as they do patterns of political thought and conceptual arrangements. In parallel and intersecting with that I have worked extensively on two other themes: liberal thought from the 19th century to the present. and most recently the specifically political features of political thinking and the distinctive methodologies that students of political thought might develop. I am now working on a project exploring silences and absences in political theory. In addition I have written on welfare thinking and rights, on the nature and attributes of political concepts, on eugenics, on New Labour, on political practice, and on conceptual history.

Research interests

Political Theory, Emotions, Ideology, Liberalism, Methods, Rights and justice



The New Liberalism: An Ideology of Social Reform (Oxford, 1978)

Liberalism Divided: A Study in British Political Thought 1914-1939 (Oxford, 1986)

J.A. Hobson: A Reader (London, 1988)

Minutes of the Rainbow Circle 1894-1924, edited and annotated (London, 1989)

Reappraising J.A. Hobson: Humanism and Welfare (ed.) (London, 1990)

Rights (Buckingham, 1991)

Ideologies and Political Theory: A Conceptual Approach (Oxford, 1996)

Reassssing Political Ideologies: The Durability of Dissent (ed.) (London, 2001)

Ideology: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford, 2003)

Liberal Languages: Ideological Imaginations and Twentieth Century Progressive Thought (Princeton, 2005)

Taking Ideology Seriously: 21st Century Reconfigurations (co-editor and contributor, with G. Talshir and M. Humphrey) (London, 2006)

The Meaning of Ideology: Cross-Disciplinary Perspectives (ed.) (Routledge: Abingdon, 2007)

Comparative Political Thought: Theorizing Practices (co-editor and contributor, with A. Vincent) (Routledge, 2013).

The Political Theory of Political Thinking: The Anatomy of a Practice (Oxford: OUP, 2013; paperback, 2015). 

The Oxford Handbook of Political Ideologies, (co-edited and contributor, with L.T. Sargent and M. Stears) (Oxford: OUP, 2013; paperback, 2015).

Liberalism: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford: OUP, 2015).

Conceptual History in the European Space (co-editor and contributor, with W. Steinmetz and J. Fernandez-Sebastian) (Berghahn: London and New York, 2017).


numerous scholarly articles in politics, philosophy and history journals, and chapters in edited books. Here is a small selection:

'The Ideology of New Labour', Political Quarterly, vol. 70 (1999), 42-51.

'The Coming of the Welfare State', in T. Ball and R. Bellamy (eds.), The Cambridge History of Twentieth-Century Political Thought (Cambridge University Press, 2003), pp. 7-44

'What should the Political in Political Theory Explore', Journal of Political Philosophy, vol. 13 (2005), 113-134.

'Thinking Politically and Thinking about Politics: Language, Interpretation and Ideology', in D. Leopold and M. Stears (eds.), Political Theory: Methods and Approaches(Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008), pp. 196-215.

'European Liberalisms: An Essay in Comparative Political Thought', European Journal of Political Theory, vol. 7 (2008), 9-30.

'Failures of Political Thinking', Political Studies, vol. 57 (2009), 141-164.

'The Politics of Ceremony', Journal of Political Ideologies, vol. 16 (2011), 1-10.

'Interpretative Realism and Prescriptive Realism', Journal of Political Ideologies, vol. 17 (2012), 1-11. 

'Ideology and Conceptual History: The Interrelationship between Method and Meaning', in J. Fernandez-Sebastian (ed.), Political Concepts and Time: New Approaches to Conceptual History (McGraw Hill/ Cantabria UP, 2013), 73-101.

'The Professional Responsibilities of the Political Theorist' in B. Jackson and M. Stears (eds.),  Liberalism as Ideology: Essays in Honour of Michael Freeden (Oxford: OUP, 2012).

'The "Political Turn" in Political Theory', Journal of Political Ideologies, vol. 19 (2014), 1-14.

'After the Brexit Referendum: Revisiting Populism as an Ideology', Journal of Political Ideologies, vol. 22 (2017), 1-11.

'Crisis: How is that a Crisis?! Reflections on an Overburdened Word', Contributions to the History of Concepts, forthcoming 2017.

'Political Realism: A Reality Check', in M. Sleat (ed.), Politics Recovered: Essays on Realist Political Thought (New York: Columbia U.P.), forthcoming 2018.

British Liberalism in Search of Ideological Recalibration', in H. Schattle and J. Nuttall (eds.), Making Social Democrats: Citizens, Mindsets, Realities. Essays in Honour of David Marquand (Manchester U.P., forthcoming, 2018).