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Political Science
POLI 231
Herve Le Moual

. Political Science notes . 10/4/2009 . Political Science Notes: Topic I: Introduction to Political Science: Definition, Nature and Scope of Political Science: [Sharma and Sharma, Principles of Political Theory, Volume I and II] Study of Political Science began in ancient Greece thousands of years ago. The word politics has been derived from the Greek word polis meaning city states. Political Science is as old as the Greek city states. During the Aristotelian times political issues were studied with philosophy, sociology and economics. The study of political science as an independent discipline started in the advanced countries of the west. Political Science may be called as one of the youngest social sciences. Political Science is a very dynamic discipline. Wide issues have come in as themes and thus Political Science is growing. Due to this vastness there is a problem in defining the subject. There is no unanimity with respect to the definition of Political Science. Different approaches to the study of Political Science with respect to defining the subject: 1. State centric approach: Some scholars who were traditionalists follow the classical Aristotelian approach since individuals are political beings. The state is the only institution controls, guides and regulates human life. The state therefore is the central theme of political science and thus the approach is called state centric approach. The advocates of this approach are Bluntschli and Garner. According to Bluntschli Political Science is defined as: Political Science is a science of a state. According to Garner Political Science is defined as: Political Science begins and ends with the state. Criticisms of the State centric approach: i) This approach is not accepted by modern scholars because it advocated exclusive attention to the state and was very narrow. ii) The approach advocated that where there is a definite organisational setup like that of a state then it is required to have politics. A contrast to this can be seen in the setup of the African aboriginals who dont have a political establishment. 2. State independent approach: This approach refuses to highlight the state as an institution. 2. (a) Politics is concerned with conflict and disagreement. This ideology is associated with J.D.B. Miller. His view was that: A political situation arises out of a conflict of opinions and interests. In accordance to Alan Ball: Politics involves issues of disagreement only. Criticism: i) It does not relate only with conflict and disagreement. 2 ii) All conflicts in a society cannot be given only a political conflict. 2. (b) Politics is concerned with power and influence. Power: According to Bertrand Russell: Power is defined as the capacity of a person to make another act in a way which the former wants or wishes as the power holder. Force is direct in nature. Harold Lasswell defines political science as: The study of shaping and sharing of power and influence. Other important scholar of Political Science is Mortand Kaplan. Influence: Robert Dahl states: Influence is a relation among actors in which one actor induces the other to act in some way he wouldnt acted otherwise. The force used is indirect. Criticism: i) Influences are not always political ii) Cannot be accepted completely because it restricts the scope of politics only to those who have power in their hands. 2. (c) David Easton: Political is concerned with authoritative allocation of values. This has to be interpreted as resources. Equitable distribution of resources (social, economic) among people by the persons with authority. This equation has been critiqued on the grounds of being narrow: One cannot limit politics to authoritative allocation of values. 3. Synthesis of the two Approaches: It deals with the state, various other elements discussed under the state independent approach and various theories of the state related to the origin of the state and also the various elements of the state. Factors for the synthesis approach: i) Sovereignty (This distinguishes the state from the other institutes) ii) Territory iii) Population iv)Government. Political Science with respect to International Relations: Example: The UNESCO Conference of 1948 tried to categorize the scope of Political Science under the following heads: i) Political theory and evolution. ii) Study of political institutions, constitutions, national, regional and local governments. iii) Political parties and associations, People participations and public opinion. iv)International relations, international organization as the UN and politics. 3 Nature of Political Science: Aristotelian viewpoint: Man is a social and a political animal and therefore he/she must live in a polis. Politics is a part of human existence. State is a natural institution. The human faculty of speech helps individuals to communicate with their fellow beings. This associational nature of individuals makes him or her, a social individual. Without the state, no individual can develop their best personality. Laski gave the Theory of Rights. Without rights individuals cannot develop their best self. Laski This particular description of Aristotelian times is that Political Science becomes more of a philosophy than a pure science. Sir, Karl Popper: Science is the essence of systematised knowledge which follows the application of the correct methodology. From this definition we are drawn into a discussion of the method of science which Huxley indicates. Methods of Science may be divided into Deductive and Inductive. Inductive Method of Science: Given by Huxley, the inductive method is based on observation, experiment, inference on the basis of experience. This inductive method is actually a method which refers to from particular to general. It is applied in the theoretical field. Deductive Method of Science: Given by Huxley, the deductive method is the reverse process of the inductive method, i.e. from general to particular. It is applied in the applied and the practical field. From this conclude that the method of science is the combination of the inductive and the deductive method. We can redefine science as a set of rules from these methods which are theoretically valid, and are also practically applicable with success. Political Science cannot be prima facie be called as a science which is generally termed as a hardcore science, viz. Physics, Chemistry and Maths. Therefore we move on to two schools of Political Science. One school which considers this as an art is Last Pour School and Political Science should be studied as an art for the arts sake. The Second School feels that without Political Science one cannot have the very basic understanding of Political knowledge. This school more or less supports the view that Political Science should be regarded as a policy science. This enables the scientific study of public policy. Policy Sciences can relate to both domestic and foreign policies. Therefore this policy was given by Kautilya in the Arthashastra. Here he mentions that how policies should be taken up. A 4
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