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MichaelFreeden Mansfield College, Oxford, OX1 3TF, UK, The mood among political theorists is beginning to change. Following a method- ological retreat in recent decades from the certainties and harmonies that political theory was prone to offer, and an alternative move towards contingency, plural- ism and the normality of contestation, a further step now beckons. It reflects a growing awareness of the importance of developing proper comparative frame- works for political theory. A comparative study of political thought must incorporate larger perspectives, look beyond the patterns of particular instances and explore the great variety of political thinking across the globe in search both of commonalities and differences. It needs to ask how thinking about politics is expressed within different epistemological and cultural contexts, and how differ- ent ideological configurations are shaped across time and space, so that we can nourish a richer understanding of the nature of political thought. Nor can it rest content with telling parallel but separate stories. It has to generate methodologies – currently still in their infancy – that pick up the subtleties required to engage in proper comparative analysis. This special issue is an initial attempt to give impetus to such a project,
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