Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Arts


Political Science

First Advisor

Dr. Emily Hauptmann

Second Advisor

Dr. Susan Hoffmann

Third Advisor

Jacinda Swanson

Access Setting

Masters Thesis-Campus Only


This thesis explores a mid-twentieth century European-American literary discourse on the death and prospects for revival of political theory or political philosophy in the 1950s and early 1960s. This thesis is relevant for contemporary American readers because we can still observe and feel the effects of the behavioral revolution. I look at the literature on the death of political theory and discover that there are two distinct strands of interpretation. In the US, the "behavioral revolt" (Dahl 1961), was embraced and celebrated as a key to the advance of the scientific study of politics. At the same time, disparate European political theorists began a conversation that mourned the loss of the formerly open and eclectic ways and practices of Western political theory. I argue for a new understanding of the behavioral revolution in the US that takes into account the European perspective on the death of political theory. I also discuss how the related themes of positivism and the "scientific study of politics" (Storing 1962), became touchstones for a great deal of writing and discussion in the 1950s and 1960s. This new reading on the death of political theory shows, finally, that political theory can never die.

Off-campus Download