Select one of the Topics 2 (liberalism), 3 (conservatism) and 4 (socialism). You are to analyse the TWO COMPULSORY readings for this one topic.

In this assignment you are to compare and contrast the two arguments presented for the ideology in question. This exercise is to be completed in the form of an essay with references at the end of the document.

There are three aspects to this analysis.

  1. In the first part of the paper you should identify the arguments that the authors make for the ideology in question.


  • You should commence by identifying the ideological position proposed in the articles.
  • Several arguments may appear in the articles. You need to work out what are the main arguments. In other words, what is the overall ‘story’ that holds the articles or chapters together?
  • When you are trying to work out the main arguments, a good question to ask yourself is ‘why did the authors write this article’? Another useful question is ‘What problem is this author responding to?’
  1. You should then consider how the arguments proposed by the two authors are different. The ‘Components of Ideologies’ framework will help you develop your evaluation. [Note: you do not have to apply the five components analytical framework employed in the lectures but we do expect you to discuss key components of the relevant ideology/ideologies. In a 1500 word essay you are advised to focus on one or two of these components].


This assignment is your opportunity to explore important ideological questions. You should demonstrate here your ability to construct a logical argument, and your knowledge about specific ideologies and their key proponents.

Complete an essay on ONE of these topics.

  1. ‘Political ideologies are an obstruction to rational political action’ . Do you agree?
  1. Natural rights and utilitarianism are two concepts central to liberal thought, but there is a tension between them. How do these two positions differ on what is best for humanity?
  1. Did the arguments of classical liberals, such as John Locke and John Stuart Mill, serve to legitimate European imperialism and the dispossession of indigenous peoples?
  1. ‘The development of socialist understandings of human nature from Owen to Blair is one of a progression from utopianism to realism’. Do you agree?
  1. Are markets and anarchism incompatible?
  2. Both social democrats and neo-liberals claim to support a free society, but how and why do their visions of freedom diverge? AIP116 T2 2015 assessment 6
  1. How significant is the division between ecocentrism and

anthropocentrism for environmentalist theory and practice?

  1. Is Hayek’s criticism of the concept of ‘social justice’ convincing?
  2. Why have debates about the sex industry divided feminists?
  3. Why have debates about transsexualism divided feminists?
  4. How have Christians, Muslims or Hindus sought to respond to the challenges of capitalist modernity? In your essay you should focus on one of these religions.
  1. ‘Since the 1980s social democrats have surrendered to the claims of neo-liberalism. The contemporary political practice of social democracy bears little resemblance to that of the great social democrats of the past’. Do you agree or disagree?
  1. ‘Never since the end of World War II, and perhaps since the Russian Revolution, has political thinking in the West been so shallow and clueless…The end of ideology has not meant the lifting of clouds. It has brought a fog so thick that we can no longer read what is right before us. We find ourselves in an illegible age’ (Martin Lillia, Study Guide Topic 11). Do you agree?
  1. Select a contemporary controversy about the interpretation and application of a political ideology in political practice. Explain how the participants disagree among themselves and which side of the controversy you find more convincing.

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