The History of Concepts Group (HCG)

The History of Concepts Group (formerly the History of Political and Social Concepts Group) was established at a meeting at the Finnish Institute in London in 1998. The purpose of the group was to bring together scholars interested in the study of political and social concepts. The HCG relies on a variety of approaches to the history of ideas and concepts that emerged in the 1960’s and as part of a paradigm shift later named the linguistic turn. HCG has been particularly inspired by a German approach to the study of conceptual changes (Begriffsgeschichte) developed by Reinhart Koselleck and by the new development in the history of ideas now known as the Cambridge School whose leading figures are Quentin Skinner and John Pocock. Under the tutelage of Melvin Richter and Kari Palonen the HCG has focused on deriving theoretical and methodological synergies from a dialogue between these two approaches. The HPSCG has also found sources of inspiration in French approaches to the history of ideas (Pierre Rosanvallon) and to the genealogy of ideas and discourses (Michel Foucault) and in Italian approaches to the study of concepts (Guiseppe Duso).


The HPSCG has been continuously expanding its membership and activities since it creation in 1998. This is a clear sign of the growing interest for conceptual history worldwide. From its European birth place, the HPSCG has taken its conference to the Americas and to Asia. In this process conceptual history has shown to be useful not only for dealing with canonical political philosophical texts within European historical contexts, but also with the translation, transplantation, rediscription and adaptation of concepts to colonial and post-colonial contexts.  In August 2012, the group renamed itself the History of Concepts Group to reflect its wider activities and interests.