A2 Politics Liberalism Notes

These are a set of notes on all the key concepts and content summary within the AQA A2 Unit 3B Ideologies specification on Liberalism. It includes up to date examples of modern liberalism and distinguishes the knowledge needed to do well in the exam. 

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Ideologies Revision
Key Concepts
1) Human Nature
o Classical liberals ­ human beings are hedonistic and pleasure seeking creatures that are
o Modern liberals ­ JS Mill places emphasis on the human flourishing, rather than the crude
satisfaction of personal interests. Individual human nature is not as narrowly…

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o The Enlightenment opened people's minds to new possibilities. It enabled political
movements to challenge the existing order including; absolute monarchy and to establish
forms of government that would free humankind rather than enslave it.
o It could be recognized that this basis of natural rights has led to the…

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o In a free-market economy, it was understood that some companies might be so successful and
grow so large that they would be in a position to exploit both workers and consumers.
o It was a legitimate function of the state, therefore, to control such economic power.
o Those who…

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8) Justice
o `A moral standard of fairness and impartiality; social justice is the notion of a fair or
justifiable distribution of wealth and rewards in society'
o Giving each personal what he or she is due, a moral punishment.
o Refers to the distribution of material rewards and benefits…

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o Equality of opportunity ­ government intervention is accepted by modern liberals if it will
aid individuals to pursue their individual goals ­ for example the Pupil Premium

10) Libertarianism
o This term refers to an extreme form of liberalism.
o Emerged in the latter part of the 19th century,…

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o This is because the common law tradition embraces individual rights and protection from
excessive state power; British media is remarkable free, widespread artistic freedom,
freedom of speech and press.
o There is a strong claim to be made that Britain is not just a liberal democracy, but also a…

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The meaning of liberalism ­ liberal ideas and values about the individual, capitalism and
Liberalism is a commitment to the individual and the desire to construct a society where people can
satisfy their own interests and achieve fulfillment. It is closely associated with ideas of freedom and

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Liberals original fear of the state was that it might seek to interfere with aspects of peoples lives
that were private. Mill believed that intervention in economic markets would inhibit innovation,
enterprise and dynamic progress.
Early utilitarian's had been concerned that government intervention should always consider the
interests of society…

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- Representative - Tolerant social
democracy law and order
- Support for a

Neo-Liberalism and its relationship to the New Right
Neo-liberalism ­ during the late 1970's and in the 1980's interest in classical liberal ideas enjoyed a
major revival.
It was not a feature of…

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The party was always committed to parliamentary democracy, but from the 1950's onwards it was
associated with pluralist politics and a determination to tolerate alternative doctrines.
Labour focuses also on minorities and presided liberal reforms such as changes to laws on
homosexuality, legislation of abortion, equal pay for women and…


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A useful and detailed set of notes covering the fundamental aspects of liberal philosophy, these will be helpful to students embarking upon preparation for A2 synoptic discussions. Students might follow this by referring to evidential case studies in order to gain marks in Assessment Objective 2.

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