Pub. date: 2011 | Online Pub. Date: October 04, 2011 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412994163 | Print ISBN: 9781412959636 | Online ISBN: 9781412994163| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Conservatism is one of the basic currents of democratic political life, which is founded on a (moderate) critique of liberalism. Conservatism generally accepts the political institutions of liberal democracy, but it denounces the dangers that come from the decline of traditions and from the modern emancipation of individuals. The study of the diverse traditions of conservatism must start with the explanation of its complex nature as philosophy and as political attitude; it requires a historical study of the growth of conservatism from the Enlightenment to the birth of modern democracy through the democratic revolutions of Europe and America and, in the end, a philosophical examination of its theoretical foundations. This entry begins with a definition of conservatism as both a philosophy and a political ideology, briefly traces its historical origins and development in British politics, and concludes with a look at contemporary conservative thought. Conservatism is both a political philosophy, ...