All about Political Science: History, Definition, Scope, Sub Fields and more

Political Science is the study of the theory and practice of politics and government. It is a social science that deals with the analysis of political systems, institutions, behavior, and public policy.

It encompasses a wide range of subfields, including political theorycomparative politics, international relationspublic policy, and political behavior.

Political scientists use a variety of research methods, including quantitative analysisstatistical analysis, and qualitative research, to study the complex dynamics of politics and governance at the local, national, and international levels.

The goal of Political Science is to understand and explain the ways in which power is exercised, shared, and limited in society, and to use this understanding to promote more effective and just governance.

History of Political Science

Political Science in Ancient Greece

The study of politics and government can be traced back to ancient Greece, where philosophers such as Plato and Aristotle wrote extensively about the nature of politics and governance. They sought to understand the best way to organize and govern society, and their ideas continue to influence political thought today.

Plato (427-347 BCE)

Plato, a student of Socrates, wrote about the ideal state in his famous work “The Republic.” He believed that a just society could be achieved through the rule of philosopher-kings who possess knowledge of the eternal forms or ideas. He also wrote about the nature of justice and the role of the individual in society.

Aristotle (384-322 BCE)

Aristotle, a student of Plato, wrote about the nature of politics and the different forms of government in his work “Politics.”

He classified governments into three types: monarchyaristocracy, and democracy. He believed that the best form of government is a constitutional government, in which power is shared among different groups. Aristotle also wrote about the importance of education and the role of virtue in politics.

Political Science in Middle Ages

During the Middle Ages, political thought was shaped by the Catholic Church and the writings of scholars such as Thomas Aquinas and Machiavelli. The Catholic Church held a great deal of political power and influence, and its teachings and doctrine played a central role in shaping political thought.

The works of scholars like Aquinas and Machiavelli were heavily influenced by the Church’s teachings and focused on the nature of political authority, the role of the state, and the relationship between the ruler and the ruled.

Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274)

Thomas Aquinas was a Dominican friar and theologian, and one of the most important figures in the history of political thought. He wrote extensively on the nature of political authority and the role of the state. He believed that the state was necessary to maintain order and justice in society, and that the ruler had a duty to promote the common good. He also believed that the state should be limited by natural law and that the ruler’s authority was derived from God.

Machiavelli (1469-1527)

Niccolò Machiavelli was an Italian diplomat, politician and writer, and one of the most influential figures in the history of political thought. He wrote the famous book “The Prince” which is considered as one of the seminal works of political science. He believed that the state was necessary to maintain order and security, and that the ruler should be willing to use any means necessary to maintain power. He also believed that the ruler’s authority was derived from the people, and that the ruler’s primary duty was to protect the state.

Period of Renaissance

The Renaissance saw a renewed interest in classical thought, and figures such as Hobbes, Locke, and Rousseau wrote about the nature of government and the social contract.

19th Century

In the 19th century, the field of Political Science began to emerge as a distinct academic discipline. Scholars such as Alexis de Tocqueville and Franz Oppenheimer wrote about the nature of democracy and the role of the state in society. The early 20th century saw the rise of positivist and behavioral approaches to the study of politics, which focused on the scientific study of political phenomena.

Definitions of Political Science

  1. Aristotle (384-322 BCE) defined Political Science as “the science of creating the best possible constitution and the best possible life in a community.”
  2. Harold Lasswell (1902-1978) defined Political Science as “the study of who gets what, when, and how.”
  3. David Easton (1917-2014) defined Political Science as “the analysis of the authoritative allocation of values.”
  4. Gabriel Almond (1911-2002) defined Political Science as “the study of the authoritative allocation of values for a society.”
  5. Robert Dahl (1915-2014) defined Political Science as “the study of how power is exercised and shared in society.”
  6. Woodrow Wilson (1856-1924) defined Political Science as “the study of government and the art of government.”

Scope Of Political Science

The scope of Political Science is vast and covers a wide range of topics, from the study of political theory and the ideal form of government, to the study of public policy and the impact of politics on society.

Study Of Political System And Institutions

One of the key areas of study within Political Science is the study of political systems and institutions. This includes the examination of different forms of government, such as democracydictatorship, and monarchy, as well as the study of political parties, interest groups, and other political actors. Political scientists also study the workings of political systems, including the role of the state, the distribution of power, and the relationship between the ruler and the ruled.

Study Of Public Policy

Another important area of study within Political Science is the study of public policy. This includes the examination of how policies are made, who is affected by them, and how they impact society. Political scientists also study the implementation of policies, including the management of public organizations and the role of bureaucrats. This subfield also deals with the study of public administration which includes the management of public organizations and the implementation of public policy.

Study Of International Relations

Political Science also encompasses the study of international relations, which deals with the relations between countries and international organizations. This includes the examination of the causes of war and peace, the role of international institutions, and the impact of globalization on politics and governance. Political scientists in this subfield use a variety of methods, such as game theory and statistical analysis, to understand the dynamics of international relations and the factors that shape foreign policy.

Subfields Of Political Science

Political Science is a multi-disciplinary field that encompasses a wide range of subfields, each with its own specific focus and methods of study. Here are some of the major subfields of Political Science:

  1. Political theory
  2. Comparative politics
  3. International relations
  4. Public policy
  5. Political behavior
  6. Public Administration
  7. Political psychology
  8. Environmental Politics
  9. Political Economy
  10. Public Law

1. Political theory

Political theory is one of the subfields of Political Science. It is concerned with the nature of politics and the ideal form of government. It explores the origins of political authority, the foundations of the state, and the principles of democracy and justice. Political theorists use a variety of methods, such as historical analysis, philosophical inquiry, and comparative study, to understand the nature of politics and the principles that should guide it.

2. Comparative politics

Comparative politics is another subfield of Political Science. It is the study of the politics of different countries and regions. It seeks to understand how political systems differ, how they are similar, and how they change over time. Comparative politics uses a variety of methods, such as statistical analysis, case studies, and field research, to understand the politics of different countries and regions.

3. International relations

International relations is a subfield of Political Science that deals with the relations between countries and international organizations. It examines the causes of war and peace, the role of international institutions, and the impact of globalization on politics and governance. International relations scholars use a variety of methods, such as game theory, statistical analysis, and historical analysis, to understand the dynamics of international relations.

4. Public policy

Public policy is a subfield of Political Science that deals with the development and implementation of government policies. It examines how policies are made, who is affected by them, and how they impact society. Public policy scholars use a variety of methods, such as quantitative analysis, case studies, and field research, to understand the policy-making process and the impact of policies on society.

5. Political behavior

Political behavior is another subfield of Political Science that deals with how individuals and groups make political decisions. It examines how citizens form political attitudes, how they participate in politics, and how political institutions shape political behavior. Political behavior scholars use a variety of methods, such as surveys, experiments, and field research, to understand the factors that influence political decision-making.

6. Public Administration

Public Administration is a subfield of Political Science. It deals with the management of public organizations and the implementation of public policy. It examines how government organizations are managed and how they implement policies. Public administration scholars use a variety of methods, such as case studies and field research, to understand the organization and management of government agencies.

7. Political psychology

Political psychology is a subfield of Political Science. It deals with how individuals and groups think, feel, and act in political contexts, including the psychological factors that influence political decision-making. It examines how individuals form political attitudes and beliefs, how they participate in politics, and how they are influenced by political institutions and leaders. Political psychology scholars use a variety of methods, such as experiments, surveys, and field research, to understand the psychological processes that underlie political behavior.

8. Environmental Politics

This subfield deals with the relationship between politics and the environment. It examines how government policies and actions impact the environment and how environmental issues are addressed by political institutions. Environmental politics scholars use a variety of methods, such as case studies, statistical analysis, and field research, to understand the relationship between politics and the environment.

9. Political Economy

This subfield deals with the intersection of politics and economics. It examines how economic policies and institutions shape political outcomes and how politics affects economic performance. Political economy scholars use a variety of methods, such as game theory, statistical analysis, and case studies, to understand the relationship between politics and economics.

10. Public Law

This subfield deals with the study of laws and legal institutions that govern public policy, administration and politics. It examines how laws and legal institutions shape politics and how politics shape legal institutions. Public law scholars use a variety of methods, such as case studies, legal research, and historical analysis, to understand the relationship between politics and law.

Why we study Political Science?

There are many reasons why people choose to study Political Science. Some of the main reasons include:

  • Understanding the world: Political Science provides a framework for understanding the political, social, and economic systems that shape our world. It helps students understand how politics works and how it affects their lives and the lives of others.
  • Career opportunities: Political Science majors are well-prepared for a variety of careers in the public, private, and non-profit sectors. Graduates can work in government, international organizations, political campaigns, lobbying, public policy, and political consulting, among others.
  • Civic engagement: Political Science encourages students to become informed and active citizens. It provides the knowledge and skills needed to participate in the political process and to make a positive impact in their communities.
  • Critical thinking: Political Science encourages students to think critically about political issues and to develop the skills needed to analyze and evaluate political arguments.
  • Interdisciplinary: Political Science is an interdisciplinary field, which means it draws on concepts and theories from a variety of disciplines, such as history, sociology, economics, law, and psychology, to understand the complexities of politics and governance.
  • International perspective: Political Science also provides a global perspective on politics, helping students understand the dynamics of international relations and the impact of globalization on politics and governance.

Who is Called the Father of Political Science?

Aristotle

The Greek philosopher Aristotle is often considered the “Father of Political Science.” He wrote extensively on politics and government, and his ideas and concepts continue to be studied and debated by political scientists today.

In his book “Politics,” Aristotle outlined his views on politics and government, and discussed topics such as the nature of the state, the ideal form of government, and the role of citizens in the political process.

He also made significant contributions to the study of political theory, including the concepts of justice and the common good, which are still debated and studied today. Aristotle’s ideas and concepts have had a lasting impact on the field of Political Science and continue to be an important source of inspiration and understanding for scholars and students of the subject.

Conclusion

In conclusion, Political Science is a dynamic and multi-disciplinary field of study that encompasses a wide range of subfields, each with its own specific focus and methods of study. It provides students with a comprehensive understanding of the political, social and economic systems that shape our world. The scope of Political Science is vast and covers a wide range of topics, from the study of political theory and the ideal form of government, to the study of public policy and the impact of politics on society.

One of the key reasons to study Political Science is to gain an understanding of how politics works and how it affects our lives. Additionally, Political Science offers a wide range of career opportunities for graduates, as well as the ability to become an informed and active citizen. Furthermore, Political Science encourages critical thinking and provides a global perspective on politics and governance.

SAKHRI Mohamed
SAKHRI Mohamed

I hold a bachelor's degree in political science and international relations as well as a Master's degree in international security studies, alongside a passion for web development. During my studies, I gained a strong understanding of key political concepts, theories in international relations, security and strategic studies, as well as the tools and research methods used in these fields.

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