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Political Science History & Theory

The Changing Conditions of Politics

by (author) James Corry

University of Toronto Press, Scholarly Publishing Division
Initial publish date
Dec 2018
History & Theory, Essays, General, Commentary & Opinion
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    Publish Date
    Dec 2018
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J.A. Corry, one of Canada's outstanding political scientists,
in the Alan B. Plaunt Lectures for 1963 has contributed a brilliant and provocative
analysis of the changed world in which politics and students of politics must
operate today. He suggests first that political studies can no longer be confined to
the frame long held adequate. The eighteenth-century view of man as essentially
rational suited an age of individualism and liberal optimism but is inadequate for
politics in our mass society: here theology has something to contribute. Political
science has in the past confined its attention to the operation of governments and
political parties but has not for this age taken enough account of the influence of
the social structure as a whole on political behaviour: here is where sociology may
speak. With this background Principal Corry talks of the difficulties of
understanding our present-day political ideas and theories hitherto usually relied
on for the purpose. He goes on to look at some aspects of the collectivist, mass
society we live in today and to consider how far these may be producing new
dimensions in political behaviour.

There is abroad today a mood of
disenchantment and frustration because politics has disappointed us but ironically
this mood may endanger such recovery of control as is open to us. Effective power is
being gathered into relatively few hands. In this society where will the individual
find confidence and self-reliance and a sense of responsibility? We face a dilemma
in "the end of ideology," in the slipping of convictions about what can be
achieved through politics, and this affects both governments, politicians and
individuals. Answers to the many questions about human nature and society which this
dilemma presents are not easy to find, but must be sought. The skill and power with
which Principal Corry has marshalled the questions ensure our attention and

About the author

James A. Corry (1899-1985) was Queen's 13th Principal (1961-1968) and one of Canada's most distinguished professors of politics and law. James Corry was made a Companion of the Order of Canada, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, and received honorary degrees from 14 universities, including Queen's. He wrote and taught actively throughout his retirement, and was a visiting professor at several universities. He died in Kingston and his personal papers are held at Queen's Archives.

James Corry's profile page

Other titles by James Corry