Challenging the Conservative Exceptionalism: Theme of Change in the Conservative Canon

  • Dogancan Ozsel

Student thesis: Phd


This thesis is presented by Dogancan Ozsel to the University of Manchester, Faculty of Humanities, School of Social Sciences, division of Politics for the degree of Doctor of Social Sciences in 2011.The thesis focuses on the conservative canon and analyses the validity of exceptionalist claims of conservative thinking through a deconstructive reading of conservatism. The comparison of classical and radical conservatisms provides the grounds for this analysis.After the introductory chapter, the second chapter of this thesis focuses on the general characteristics of the conservative ideology. It consists of three sub-sections. The first of these presents the characteristics of classical conservatism, while the second turns to consider radical conservatism. Then, in the third sub-section, a discussion of the similarities and differences between these two conservatisms leads to a proposed definition of a core of the conservative canon. Here, it is argued that the epistemological and ontological imperfection of individuals can be regarded as the definitive core, or as the precept which the justification of conservative policies relies upon.The third chapter then focuses on the views of a number of significant figures in the development of political thought on ideology, which is used by these thinkers as a critical tool. A narrative of the historical developments in the analyses of ideology and ideologies is presented in this chapter. In the last part of the chapter, Derridian thinking is introduced. The fourth chapter problematises conservative exceptionalism, or the belief that there is a fundamental difference between conservatism and other ideologies. This chapter is founded upon the analyses of the previous two chapters, using the Derridian reading and referring to the characteristics and commonalities of the conservative canon presented. In this chapter, radicalism is argued to be a persistent theme in conservative thinking, and conservatism is claimed to be founded upon its impossibility.
Date of Award31 Dec 2011
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorAlan Hamlin (Supervisor) & Hillel Steiner (Supervisor)


  • ideology
  • deconstruction
  • oakeshott
  • michael oakeshott
  • edmund burke
  • radical conservatives
  • conservative exceptionalism
  • political ideologies
  • radical conservatism
  • conservatives
  • conservatism
  • burke
  • conservatism studies

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