Social and political theories attempts to give answers to basic questions – what makes societies successful and how would we know?

Social theory sets out to explain how the basic structures of society function - its institutions, organizations, groups, communities and so forth. It examines and attempts to explain how different societies work or don’t work. Political theory attempts to analyse the state, power, authority and political parties.

Social and Political Theory is an area of strength in IRPS. Our recent research takes happiness to be at least one measure of a successful society.

Stream leader Professor Barbalet has a special interest in what is often called ‘classical sociology’ namely the period (roughly 1880 – 1930) when sociology began to emerge as a fully developed academic field within universities in the United States and Europe. This interest does not rule out working with contemporary social and political theory. 

Stream leader 

n_Barbalet2-400x300-c-defaultProfessor Jack Barbalet

Jack Barbalet is an internationally acclaimed sociologist who has held professorial appointments in Australia, England and Hong Kong.

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Other research streams


Law and Society

The ‘law and society’ perspective asks how social institutions, values and practices shape or determine the nature and operation of the law. This research stream builds on existing research into legal pluralism or the role of different legal traditions within a sovereign state.

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Political Economy

This will develop the study of citizenship, the changing economy, employment, the role of trade unions, and the changing nature of work. This focus reflects the work of Tom Barnes and Sally Weller on de-industrialization, retrenchment and the labour market in Melbourne and Geelong.

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ACU Institute for Religion, Politics and Society

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