J. G. A. Pocock

John Greville Agard Pocock, ONZM ( born March 7, 1924 in London) is a New Zealand historian and political scientist with a focus on the history of ideas. This includes the study of early republicanism and the Enlightenment.


Pocock is a son of originating from the Cape Colony, Lewis Greville Pocock (1890-1975) and its derived from the Channel Islands wife. When his father in 1927 as professor of Classics at the Canterbury College in Christchurch ( New Zealand) was appointed, moved with the family. Pocock studied in New Zealand, where he was first a bachelor's degree and received his Masters in 1946.

It was followed by studies at the University of Cambridge and a doctorate at the historian Herbert Butterfield. In 1959 he founded and headed the Department of Political Science at the University of Canterbury. 1966 emigrated to the United States Pocock. From 1975 to 1994 Pocock was a professor at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore.


Pocock is considered a pioneer of the history of political ideas. He is co-founder of contextualism. It is a flow of the history of ideas, interprets the historical sources, especially in the temporal and intellectual context of their time. Together with Quentin Skinner he has laid the foundation for the Cambridge School. To his methodological approach including the analysis of political language of their time. Based on this discourse can be recognized groups and trends. He was instrumental in the protagonists of the political theory of early modern researches such as James Harrington, Thomas Hobbes and John Locke.


  • The Ancient Constitution and the Feudal Law. Revised version of the dissertation. 1957
  • The other civil society. On the Dialectics of virtue and corruption. Translated from English by Klaus Blocher. Campus, Frankfurt am Main 1993, ISBN 3-593-34836-5
  • Barbarism and Religion. 5 volumes Volume 1: The enlightenments of Edward Gibbon, 1737-1794. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge 1999
  • Volume 2: Narratives of Civil Government. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge 1999
  • Volume 3: The First Decline and Fall. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge 2003
  • Volume 4: Barbarians, Savages and Empires. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge 2005
  • Volume 5: Religion: the First Triumph. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge 2011