Om urvalets problem: Att undervisa inom och utom den politiska teorins kanon


  • Johan Karlsson Schaffer


On the problem of selection: Teaching within and without the canon of political theory.

As we teach political theory, we cannot escape the canon problem, since we must select a manageable set of key texts, thinkers and theories. However, what we select also shapes what we take political theory and the subject matter of politics to be. Against this backdrop, this paper surveys arguments for and against relying on an established Western canon of political thought. Teaching the canon can be justified in so far as it represents essential knowledge, provides outstanding resources for generating novel insights, and offers a common language for the discipline. However, expanding the established canon with alternative sources can also serve important functions, providing invaluable opportunities to reflect on the political. A diversified selection also reflects the pluralism inherent in both pedagogy and scientific inquiry. I conclude by suggesting three strategies for dealing with the canon problem in light of the inescapable choices it forces upon us as teachers of political theory.