Political theory has evolved over the centuries, shaping how we understand and approach politics today. From ancient Greek philosophers to modern-day political scientists, there have been numerous schools of thought that have contributed to this evolution. In this article, we will explore the history and evolution of political theory.

The Beginnings of Political Theory

Political theory can be traced back to ancient Greece, where philosophers such as Plato and Aristotle wrote extensively about politics and governance. Plato’s Republic is perhaps the most famous work in this genre, outlining his vision for an ideal society ruled by philosopher-kings. Aristotle’s Politics focused on analyzing different forms of government and their merits.

Medieval Political Thought

During the Middle Ages, political theory was heavily influenced by the Catholic Church. The concept of the divine right of kings emerged during this time, which held that monarchs were appointed by God and therefore had absolute power over their subjects. This idea was challenged by philosophers such as Thomas Aquinas, who argued that rulers should be held accountable for their actions.

The Enlightenment

The Enlightenment era saw a major shift in political theory. Thinkers such as John Locke and Jean-Jacques Rousseau emphasized individual rights and freedoms, challenging the idea of absolute monarchy. The social contract theory emerged during this time, which held that governments derive their authority from the consent of the governed.

Modern Political Theory

In the 20th century, political theory became more empirical and focused on analyzing real-world politics. Scholars such as Max Weber and Karl Marx developed theories about power relations within society and how they impact politics. Feminist political theory emerged during this time as well, highlighting how gender shapes political power dynamics.


In conclusion, political theory has come a long way since its origins in ancient Greece. From divine right monarchies to individual rights, the evolution of political theory has shaped how we think about governance and power. By understanding this history, we can better appreciate the complex political systems we have today.