Richard Elliott | Student | Profiles
Richard Elliott

Mr Richard Elliott

Research topic:
DPhil Politics Candidate studying Democratic Political Meaning; Democratic Politics; Wittgenstein and the New Liberalism

Academic Profile

As a passionate and engaged DPhil student, I have been able to develop a compelling original thesis outlining a new theory of democracy. In addition, working within a thriving academic environment has allowed me to develop my analytical strengths and to broaden my theoretical perspective.

My thesis liberal organic democracy draws upon distinct philosophical approaches (philosophy of language and social reform ideology) in order to offer a compelling challenge to the dominant understanding of popular self-rule. This innovative philosophy combines New Liberal ideas about democratic government (conceptualising political society as a unified, organic, living entity) with Wittgensteinian rule-following philosophy. Drawing from this theoretical basis, liberal organic democracy theorises politics in a new way. Significantly, this philosophy notes that through everyday activity, citizens change their understanding of the political. As this process occurs throughout society, the citizens collectively come to redefine political concepts and institutions. This is an organic, evolutionary process, which should be reflected in government. Liberal organic democracy proposes that government should therefore be democratic and malleable, and responsive to a changing context. It should be inclusive, so as to adequately reflect the way in which all citizens contribute to the redefinition of the political. And it should ensure a sphere of individual freedom in order to allow all citizens the opportunity to genuinely engage with politics.

Furthermore, this form of democracy is less directed by the state: individual initiative should be encouraged, and the state must be open to popular demands for reform of its own policies and institutions that arise outside the structures of government. Therefore, this thesis proposes toexplore non-governmental institutions (such as local cooperatives and social networking media) as potential democratic forums, and necessary motors for democratic change.

Beyond my immediate interests, I enjoy attending lectures, conferences and seminars on a range of subjects, and have written for the Departments publication, In Spires.

Teaching specialism, interests and experience

Teaching Interests:

Democratic political theory; realism; illiberal theory; genealogy; ideologies; Wittgensteins philosophy of meaning.

History of political thought, c. 1600-present; methodologies in the history of political thought.

British and European political history.


Academic Focus:

Political Theory DPhil Thesis Project (University of Oxford): Liberal Organic Democracy: A Politics of Active Citizenship. Political theory engaging with the Wittgensteinian approach to linguistic philosophy.

History of Political Thought political theory c.1600 to present; methodology of historical approaches to political theory; Skinnerite speech act theory in historical political discourse. MPhil Thesis Project (University of Oxford): Democracy and the Liberal Organic State in the Political Theory of J. A. Hobson.



2013 to present DPhil Politics

University of Oxford

Thesis Title: Liberal Organic Democracy: A Politics of Active Citizenship

Supervisor: David Leopold

2011 to 2013 MPhil Political Theory

University of Oxford

Thesis Title: Democracy and the Liberal Organic State in the Political Theory of J. A. Hobson

Supervisor: David Leopold

Co-supervisor: Michael Freeden

2007-2010BA History First Class

University of Cambridge

Dissertation Title: Communism within the Political Propaganda of the Conservative Party, 1931-1939

Supervisor: Ben Griffin


Relevant Academic Courses:

Oxford: Political Theories from Machiavelli to Burke (2013), Political Theories of Hegel and Marx (2013),Problems of Theory and Method in the History of Political Thought (2012); Constructing the Text: Editorial Methods (2012); Theory of Politics (2011-12).

Cambridge: Political Philosophy and the History of Political Thought, c.1890-present (only agreed First Class Mark between both examiners at tripos, 2010); History of Political Thought, c.1715-1890 (2009).

Conference Papers and Presentations

Respondent to Jeremy Waldron speaking on Montesquieu and the Rule of Law, Oxford History of Political Thought Seminar, May 2013.

Chair, Oxford Graduate History of Political Thought Conference, May 2013.