Real Politics and the Concept of Political Corruption

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article explores some of the challenges generated by recent attempts to relate the concept of political corruption to real politics. It shows that the three distinct arguments upon which scholars who conceptualize political corruption through the lens of real politics often rely are ambiguous, and posit standards for the use of power on the basis of naive or conservative assumptions about politics. The article then contends that we do need to consider real politics in the study of political corruption, but not in the manner or for the reasons suggested in much current scholarship. Specifically, examining real politics can help us determine the form of any given case of political corruption. In making this argument, the article attempts to avoid the problems that accompany most real-politics-based understandings of corruption while retaining concern for how the discourse around political corruption might influence political study and democratic politics.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)544-554
Number of pages11
JournalPolitical Studies Review
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1 Nov 2016

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016, © The Author(s) 2016.


  • engagement
  • political corruption
  • relevance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Political Science and International Relations


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