||This biographical article needs additional citations for verification. (November 2013)|
|Era||20th / 21st-century philosophy|
|School||Postanalytic, Historicism, Interpretivism|
|Main interests||Philosophy of History, Social Philosophy, History of Ideas, and Governance|
|Alma mater||University of Exeter, Oxford University|
|Notable ideas||Weak Intentionalism, Tradition and Dilemma, Narrative Explanation, Decentred Theory of Governance|
Mark Bevir is a professor of political science and Director of the Center for British Studies at the University of California, Berkeley, where he currently teaches courses on political theory and philosophy, public policy and organization, and methodology. He is also a Professor in the Graduate School of Governance, United Nations University (MERIT) and a Distinguished Research Professor in the College of Arts and Humanities, Swansea University.
Bevir was born in London. His family was broadly humanist and impressed upon Bevir the importance of reading, self-expression and seeking personal growth. Bevir was educated at the University of Exeter and Oxford University. He lectured at the University of Madras and at Newcastle University before moving to Berkeley. He has been a visiting fellow at universities in Australia, Finland, France, the UK, and the US.
Bevir has published extensively in philosophy, history, and political science literatures. His interests are diverse, including Anglophone, continental, and South Asian thought, particularly radical, socialist, and critical theory of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Philosophical concerns include postanalytic approaches to subjectivity, social inquiry, ethics, and democratic theory. Bevir's intellectual influence has been greatest in the fields of philosophy of history, interpretivism, and governance.
Philosophy of history
Bevir is the author of The Logic of the History of Ideas (1999), which builds on the work of analytic philosophers such as Ludwig Wittgenstein and Donald Davidson to "undertake a normative study of the forms of reasoning appropriate to the history of ideas". His approach is intended to complement, and not directly oppose, the Cambridge School of history of political thought which focuses on recovering meanings of historical texts, and hermeneutic theorists concerned with the phenomenology of understanding. Rather, Bevir introduces the idea of a normative approach that hinges on using traditions and dilemmas to understand beliefs and more complex webs of meaning, key concepts that underpin his work on interpretive political science and governance theory.
Mark Bevir and R. A. W. Rhodes are the authors of Interpreting British Governance (2003), Governance Stories (2006), and The State as Cultural Practice (2010). They argue that political science must necessarily be an interpretive art. This is because they hold that the starting point of enquiry must be to unpack the meanings, beliefs, and preferences of actors in order to then make sense of understanding actions, practices, and institutions. Political science is therefore an interpretative discipline underpinned by hermeneutic philosophy rather than positivism: there is no ‘science’ of politics, instead all explanations, including those that deploy statistics and models, are best conceived as narratives. Bevir and Rhodes thus provide an elaborate philosophical foundation for a decentred theory of governance woven together by the notions of beliefs, traditions and dilemmas. 'It follows that the role of political scientists is to use (1) ethnography to uncover people’s beliefs and preferences, and (2) history to uncover traditions as they develop in response to dilemmas. The product is a story of other people’s constructions of what they are doing, which provides actors’ views on changes in government, the economy, and society. So, for example, a political scientist may select a part of the governance process, and then explain it by unpicking various political traditions and how actors within these traditions encounter and act to resolve dilemmas. Governance is thus understood as the contingent and unintended outcome of competing narratives of governance.'
"For Bevir and Rhodes, decentered theory revolves around the idea of situated agency: institutions, practices or socialisation cannot determine how people behave, so any course of action is a contingent individual choice. People’s actions are explained by their beliefs (or meanings or desires); any one belief is interpreted in the context of the wider web of a person’s beliefs; and these beliefs are explained by traditions and modified by dilemmas. A tradition (or episteme or paradigm) is the set of theories against the background of which a person comes to hold beliefs and perform actions. It is a first influence upon people – a set of beliefs that they inherit and then transform in response to encounters with "dilemmas" (or problems or anomalies). A dilemma arises whenever novel circumstances generate a new belief that forces people to question their previously held beliefs. Change occurs through encountering such dilemmas: while individual responses to dilemmas are grounded in traditions, they then modify just those traditions."
- The Logic of the History of Ideas, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1999.
- Interpreting British Governance (with R.A.W. Rhodes), London, Routledge, 2003.
- New Labour: A Critique, London, Routledge, 2005.
- Governance Stories (with R.A.W. Rhodes), London, Routledge, 2006.
- Key Concepts in Governance, London, Sage, 2009.
- The State as Cultural Practice (with R.A.W. Rhodes), Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2010.
- Democratic Governance, Princeton, Princeton University Press, 2010.
- The Making of British Socialism, Princeton University Press, 2011.
- Governance: A Very Short Introduction, Oxford University Press, 2012.
- Critiques of Capital in Modern Britain and America: Transatlantic Exchanges 1800 to the Present Day (with Frank Trentmann), Basingstoke, Palgrave Macmillan, 2002.
- Markets in Historical Contexts: Ideas and Politics in the Modern World (with Frank Trentmann), Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2004.
- Modern Political Science: Anglo-American Exchanges since 1880 (with Robert Adcock and Shannon Stimson), Princeton, Princeton University Press, 2007.
- Histories of Postmodernism (with Jill Hargis and Sara Rushing), New York, Routledge, 2007.
- Public Governance, 4 vols., London, Sage, 2007:
- Governance, Consumers and Citizens (with Frank Trentmann), Baringstoke, Palgrave Macmillan, 2007.
- Interpretive Political Science, 4 vols., London, Sage, 2010.
- The SAGE Handbook of Governance, Sage, 2011.
- Modern Pluralism: Anglo-American Debates since 1880, Cambridge University Press, 2012.
Special Journal Issues
- Capitalism and Social Justice: British Critiques, Traditions, and Practices (with Frank Trentmann), European Legacy, vol. 6, no. 2, 2001.
- Traditions of Governance: History and Diversity (with R.A.W. Rhodes and Patrick Weller), Public Administration, vol. 81, no. 1, 2003.
- Historical Understanding and the Human Sciences, Journal of the Philosophy of History, vol. 1, no. 3, 2007.
- Genealogy, Journal of the Philosophy of History, vol. 2, no. 3, 2008.
- Encyclopedia of Governance, ed., 2 vols., Thousand Oaks, CA, Sage, 2007.
- Encyclopedia of Political Theory, ed., 3 vols., Thousand Oaks, CA, Sage, 2010.
- "Ernest Belfort Bax: Marxist, Idealist, and Positivist," Journal of the History of Ideas Vol. 54, No. 1, January 1993
- "British Socialism and American Romanticism," The English Historical Review Vol. 110, No. 438, September 1995
- "Sidney Webb: Utilitarianism, Positivism, and Social Democracy," The Journal of Modern History Vol. 74, No. 2, June 2002
- "Meta-Methodology: Clearing the Underbrush," The Oxford Handbook for Political Methodology, Oxford University Press, 2008
- Mark Bevir and the Logic of the History of Ideas, History of European Ideas, 28/1 (2002).
- Round Table: The Logic of the History of Ideas, Rethinking History 4 (2000).
- Symposium: The Logic of the History of Ideas, Philosophical Books 42 (2001).
- Constructing the Past: Symposium on The Logic of the History of Ideas, History of the Human Sciences 15/2 (2002).
- The Interpretive Approach to Political Science: A Symposium, British Journal of Politics and International Relations 6 (2004).
- Social Democracy and Social Science: A Symposium, History of the Human Sciences 19/1 (2006).
- Democracy, Social Science, and Governance, a special issue of International Journal of Organization Theory and Behavior, 14/4 (2011).
- Post-Analytic Hermeneutics: Themes from Mark Bevir’s Philosophy of History, a special issue of Intellectual History Review 21/1 (2011).
- Bevir, Mark (1970-01-01). "Mark Bevir | University of California, Berkeley - Academia.edu". Berkeley.academia.edu. Retrieved 2013-11-20.
- [dead link]
- "SAGE: Encyclopedia of Governance: Mark Bevir: 9781412905794". Sagepub.com. Retrieved 2013-11-20.
- Berkeley Faculty Biography - Mark Bevir
- Online videos of Bevir giving lectures:
- Mark Bevir investigates the effect of Michel Foucault's The Order of Things in the context of political theory
- Intellectual History Review's theme issue on Bevir.