In June, 1998, two eminent political scientists, Melvin Richter, of the City University of New York, and Kari Palonen of the University of Jyväskylä, organized a conference on “Conceptual Changes in European Political Cultures” at the Finnish Institute in London. Henrik Stenius, the director of the Institute, served as the host. That meeting brought together scholars from fourteen nations to discuss ongoing collaborative projects on social and political concepts in such places as the Netherlands, Finland, France, Denmark, and the Soviet Union, and to listen to a variety of empirical and methodological presentations on related matters. Informing many of the reports and exchanges were the relatively recently completed volumes of the Geschichtliche Grundbegriffe—or GG for short—edited by Otto Brunner, Werner Conze and Reinhart Koselleck.
Underlying the conference were arguments made by Richter and Palonen about the possible convergence of German Begriffsgeschichte and the so-called “Cambridge School” approach(es) to the historical study of political thought. Both Reinhart Koselleck and Quentin Skinner attended the conference and contributed to its wide-ranging empirical and methodological exchanges. At the conference’s close, those present agreed to form an international network which would meet regularly, publish a newsletter, and develop an archive of projects and proposals, as well as interviews with, and critical reflections by, those who were taking part in them.
Thus was created the History of Political and Social Concepts Group.