The study of political thought tends to be dispersed within and across a number of different disciplines – political science, philosophy, history, law, sociology, economics, and cultural and literary studies, among others – and to involve a wide variety of approaches.
As a result, the distinctive interests and concerns of this sub-field risk being lost because much academic policy focuses on addressing the main branches of those disciplines within which political thought is to be found. The fact that political thought often challenges the boundaries of these disciplines makes it even easier to ignore or marginalise. The foundation of the APT is intended to address the three main dimensions of this situation:
- By providing a mechanism for advocating, to relevant policy makers, the concerns of those engaged in political thought
- Through activity intended to overcome the tendency for political thought to be marginalised or to fall between different disciplines (for example, in addressing how support for research and graduate study in the field is divided between the ESRC and AHRC)
- In facilitating scholarly interaction and collaboration amongst the whole range of practitioners in the field.
- Represent the interests of political thought with regard to both teaching and research in relation to the relevant governmental and non-governmental bodies
- Secure and advance the position of political thought within the Academy
- Act as a facilitator for the research activities of its membership
- Assist the exchange of ideas on teaching activities
- Forge connections with related associations in the UK and other countries.
The APT is formally linked to the January Oxford Political Thought Conference, at which an annual plenary meeting of the Association is held. All participants attending the annual conference automatically become members of APT for the current year.