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6. Contemporary Conservatism

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About this Lecture


In this module, we think about the developments in conservatism in the last 30-40 years, focusing in particular on: (i) the dominance of middle-of-the-road conservatism in the decades following the Second World War, and the reason this dominance came to an end; (ii) the importance of thinkers such as Friedrich Hayek (The Road to Serfdom, The Constitution of Liberty), Robert Nozick (Anarchy, State and Utopia) and Ayn Rand (Atlas Shrugged) in a shaping a more ideologically-driven conservatism; (iii) the importance of anti-Communism in this period; and (iv) the extent to which these two forms of conservatism – pragmatic and ideological conservatism – exist side by side today.


In this course, Professor Jeremy Jennings (King’s College, London) explores the history of conservatism as a political philosophy, from its beginnings in the 18th century to election of Boris Johnson as Prime Minister in December 2019. In the two modules, we think about what caused conservatism to emerge in the 18th century, focusing first on general trends and then on one particular triggering event. In the third module, we outline some of the core doctrines of conservatism – the first of which is its ability to adapt to changing circumstances – before moving on in the fourth, fifth and sixth modules to think about the development of conservatism through the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, up to the election of Boris Johnson as Prime Minister in December 2019.


Jeremy Jennings is Professor of Political Theory at King's College, London. His research focuses upon the history of political thought in France. He is presently finishing a book provisionally entitled Travels with Tocqueville and is acting as co-editor of the Cambridge Encyclopedia of French Thought. A larger, long-term project is to write a history of the concept of liberty.

Cite this Lecture

APA style

Jennings, J. (2020, December 24). Conservatism - Contemporary Conservatism [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Jennings, J. "Conservatism – Contemporary Conservatism." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 24 Dec 2020,