Introduction: In Defence of Politics

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Abstract

In a world that is increasingly dominated by literary hyperbole there can be no doubt that Bernard Crick's In Defence of Politics remains a classic text. Classic not just in the sense that it provides a masterly account of the essence, meaning and fragility of democratic politics but classic in the sense that it is written with a style, verve and passion that is rarely found within political science. If the test of pretensions to ‘a classic’ status is that a book defies the passage of time in terms of significance and argument then Crick's Defence would also make the grade for the simple fact that its arguments remain arguably far more important today than they were when they were first published exactly fifty years ago. This article reflects on the contemporary significance of Crick's Defence by defending politics against an updated set of adversaries in the form of: public expectations, marketisation, depoliticisation, the media, and crises before locating the book within the contours of current debates about public disengagement, the rise of ‘disaffected democrats’ and questions concerning the future and relevance of political science.

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