Study of Politics

Study of Politics: The modern political scientists introduce the reader to politics and accept it as the political activity hub. Ordinary use equates politics with party politics and politicians with party politicians, engaged in their respective parties’ politics born out of disagreement on the policies and programs each party owns and propagates and, therefore, the conflict on the issues. As a result, politics emphasizes disagreement, and here is the rub.

Disagreement, which is so prominent in party politics, correctly identifies a basic quality of politics in its wider sense. It then follows that men have diverse views, interests, and characteristics; they differ in their views on the nature of man and his role in the world have conflicting interests as young and old employer and employee, rich and poor, and also differ psychologically being cautious or impetuous timid and brave and so on. In so far as it is reflected in disagreement, this variety of humankind provides the basis for politics.

Disagreement though a necessary condition for politics, is not a sufficient condition of the order. If politics is not to disappear into chaos or civil war, there need to be recognized limits to disagreement and the measure of agreement necessary to maintain order.

This order’s existence is reflected in that collection of institutions and behavior patterns that together make up the political community. Political situations arise out of disagreement within an ordered community. The resolution of the conflicts which emerge will depend upon the distribution of influence within the community and the efficiency with which those with influence use their resources.

Time and again, the advocates of incompatible policies will confront each Other. There will be influence clashes. The influence employed may involve the use of rewards or punishments. But whatever form it takes, the relative influence of the groups and the response to the conflict by other groups, including the government, will decide the outcome will decide Who gets What, When, and How.

The passage from disagreement to policy is determined by the influence exerted. The importance of influence in the policy-making process accounts for political descriptions to shape and share such influence. Political activity, then, is the activity that occurs in an ordered community and by which disagreements are resolved and translated into policy. Such authoritative decisions reflect divergences of beliefs, interests, and influence within the community.

The student of politics is concerned with the activity, which leads to those decisions with the institutions within which the activity is carried on and the goals towards attaining which the decisions are directed. Politics may be found in a variety of associations or groups.

Men are banded together because there is agreement and, therefore, order and consequent continuity. They have disagreements that are subsequently resolved into a policy applied on behalf of the group; then, politics exists in that collection of men and women.

This is whether the group is a club, a trades union, a country, or an international organization. To express it in proper terminology, politics can be looked at as on three levels State intro-State and inter-State. To some extent, we are involved at some level, many of us at more than one, and the importance of the levels vary for the individual.

The State level of politics has traditionally been given pride of place. It has the monopoly of regulating the use of legitimate force within the territory, and some students of Political Science consider it the only even. State politics includes general and local State organizations’ activities so that State politics in India includes what is called national and regional governments, including local governments in their respective territorial limits.

Study of Politics:

Political activities in any particular time and place reflect the values, beliefs, and attitudes currently held in that society. Traditionally the study of political values rivets on what eight to be the political structure and what goals ought to be sought. It has been the customary field of all political philosophers.

A modern political philosopher will concern himself, no doubt, with the study of the past’s great thinkers. Still, in this process, he will minutely examine and analyze such value words as justice, rights, freedom, and supplement them by studying values as political facts.

Therefore, his field is comprehensive as he examines the empirical aspect of such values and their validity simultaneously in the present context. To express it in concrete terms. At the same time, students of politics remain interested in the historical formulations of arguments that we ought to obey laws because we have consented to it by participating in the choice of the government, and analyze the nature of consent in all its aspects, an endeavor is also made to discover now to what extent consent as defined is in fact a value subscribed to in a particular society and what consequences of political behavior follow from the acceptance of the value.

There is increasing importance attached to the political setting the political values and attitudes, which together make political culture. Separated, rather than divorced, from the study of political values is the study of political -institutions. Until recently, the study of Political Science primarily centered around the legislatures, the executives and judiciaries, the institutions for making, carrying, and interpreting the law.

As the study of Political Science developed, other areas of political parties, interest, and other permanent groups and the media of communication-were included in the scope of the subject. All this entailed the study of facts and their actual performance. For example, what is the procedure followed when a bill becomes law, and what is the system by which the rulers are chosen, and how judges are appointed?

Such a study includes consideration of values for the political institutions reflect, in varying degree, the values of the present and the past. Consequently, the political institutions are themselves evaluated to see to what extent theory and practice diverge.

Recently, the emphasis has been placed on the study of what is called political behavior. This approach, which is not restricted to declared behaviorists, concentrates on individuals’ and groups’ behavior within political institutions. The intention is to get behind the formal structures to know how the actors actually behave in politics.

It is the study of the inside story in the actual-processes of politics. This branch of political studies relating to man’s behavior owes a great deal to students of other social sciences, especially Sociology, who brought with them a difference of approach and new ideas and propagated a more scientific study of politics.

Though the distinction has been made here between three types of political inquiry, they are interrelated; no single approach by itself can solve the riddles of politics. Political activities reflect values and other qualities of the political culture, another concept of modern innovation. They occur in institutions that reflect the past’s values and behavior and provide the arena for current activities, which are individuals’ behavior.

Political System:

In the preceding paragraph, we have mentioned the danger of viewing politics as isolated home other human activities and on the need for cooperation from the students of many fields towards increasing man knowledge of political systems in general.

A political system is an aspect of the social system, and political activity and study is a special category of social activity and study. The boundary of politics is often not clear so that, for example, actions of trade union leaders may sometimes be included in politics and sometimes not.

The same is true of activities in areas more often thought of as economic, cultural, etc. For analysis, the political system may be separated from economic and other systems. Still, in practice, the study of one system remains lopsided if not aided by other social system areas. When a traditionalist attempts to establish a relationship of Political Science with other social sciences and concludes that the knowledge gained by any phase of human behavior and attitudes about the institutions that men build, or the ideas to which they respond, the mass cannot fail to be of use in similar fields of inquiry, he is really emphasizing the relevance of the social system in which each social science supplements and fortifies the rest.

Friedrich gives a simple but matter-of-fact definition of a system. He says When several parts that are distinct and different from each other compose a whole, leaving a defined functional relation to each other which establishes a mutual dependence of these parts upon each other so that the destruction of one entails the destruction of the whole, then such a constellation is called a system.

Hitherto the study of Political Science had primarily hinged upon the State, government and the institutional framework. The analysis was, thus, limited by legal and institutional meanings and the realities of politics were not taken cognizance of. The concept of a political system is a new way of looking at the political phenomena and its analysis in all aspects, Its study includes all the interactions which affect the use of or threat of use of legitimate physical coercion.

The political system includes not only governmental institutions such as legislative, court and administrative agencies, but all structures such as kinship ties and caste groupings and atomic phenomena such as associations, riots and demonstrations as well as formal organizations like parties and media of communication. Robert Dahl’s definition is succinct He says, “A political system is a persistent pattern of human relationships, that involves to a significant extent power, rule  or authority.”

A political system as such embraces interactions between formal and  informal sociopolitical and legal institutions in a given society having its multidimensional impact including the environment. The student of Political Science must, therefore, be aware of the environment in which the political system is set, particularly the social setting.

The basic assumption of a political system is that it is a Variety of the social system. The study of one system cannot yield meaningful results without reference to other social system areas. It means that the various systems constituting the social system are interdependent. By interdependence means that when the properties of one component in a social system change, there is a chain reaction, and all other components and the system are affected.

To repeat a familiar example, when the rings of an automobile wear away, the motor car burns oil, the functioning of the other parts of the machine or system deteriorates, and the vehicle’s power declines. To put it in the words of Almond and Powell, when one variable in a system changes in magnitude and quality, others are subjected to strains and are transformed. The system changes its pattern of performance, or the regulatory mechanism disciplines the unruly component.

The emergence of political parties with their network of a separate organization and the mass media of communication, like the press, the radio, and the television, significantly changed the performance of the structures of a political system and the capabilities (that is, the way it performs as a unit in its environment) of the system in its domestic and foreign environments.

Three characteristics of a political system will be thus obvious. The first is comprehensiveness, meaning thereby that a political system does not only consist of the legal structure (legislative, executive and judiciary) or even political parties, pressure, and interest groups, and the media of communication, but it also includes all the social structures as kinship, lineage, religion, caste and status groups as well as the economic phenomena, revolutions, riots and terrorism, a new phenomenon With its national and international ramifications.

The second characteristic is interdependence. It obviously flows from the first as said earlier, if one component of the whole system changes, it impacts other components of the system and, as such, on the system as a whole. However, the extent may not be the same in proportion to all the components of the system. The third is the independent boundaries of all the parts of the social system.

Almond and Powell explain that a political system’s boundaries are subject to large fluctuations in different environments. During the war-time, the boundaries become extended as the entire social structure is geared up to meet the exigencies of war and win it.

The Punjab crisis and the activities of the terrorists during the first six years necessitated arming the executive with unprecedented powers to contain terrorism and restore conditions of normalcy. The disturbed conditions had also paralyzed the economy of the state. They created conditions of uncertainty for one particular religious community resulting in some families of that community to migrate to other parts of the country, disturbing the social structure of the Punjab and its cultural values.

Similarly, of course not to the same extent, the boundaries again are changed on the day of elections, general or mid-term, as the voters become politicians for a day, with the return of normal conditions, the boundaries of a political System contract.

Political Culture:

Any given political process takes place in a unique environment. A given political unit has a physical location. It will be of a particular size as determined by its territorial boundaries and with a given terrain and climate. All such characteristics will affect the political activity that occurs there. The political importance of the physical setting is uncertain. Still, some consequences will be if only by affecting the population’s size and the ease of communication and thereby the relative strength and coordination Of that population compared to other political units.

A particular community’s politics is also affected by its economy, which may be basically agricultural or industrial or, more generally, a mixture of the two. The economy may provide a mere subsistence or plenty even verging on superfluity. India has a mixed economy, though the percent of the population is dependent, directly or indirectly, on agriculture.

The country’s total wealth is most unevenly distributed, and 37 percent of the total population live under the poverty line. In Switzerland, there is no poor, and in Canada, there is a superfluity. A particular economy will create particular possibilities. In a country with a basically agricultural economy, the population will be predominantly rural, leading a corporate life with the family as the pivot of loyalty.

On the other hand, it is a high individualist and urbanized economy; it would just be the reverse. Because of the development in transport and communication, men of diverse customs, habits, beliefs, and languages would come together in larger units, become accustomed to proximity, and develop wider allegiances.

The social relations that develop in a particular place related to the methods of producing goods and services provide a social setting for political activity. A society may be one in which all the members may be of the same race, subscribe to similar religious beliefs, and small disparities of wealth and social status.

Another society may be multi-racial, have many religious groups, and show marked caste, class, and social distinctions India being such a society. In the former, decision making may be simple. In contrast, in the latter, the conflict potential is much greater, and its politics may, consequently, be more acrimonious. Decision-taking results home the interaction of numerous clearly defined groups.

Whatever the social environment, the relationships existing in non-political spheres may be expected to carry over into the political. There is, thus, a continuous interaction between the physical, social, and political. The physical setting affects and is affected by the social as the social and political also affect both each other and the physical situation.

The individuals who make up a society in which a political system is set may be categorized according to race, wealth, economic ideology, and even religion. Still, really there is more to the setting than what -is often termed the social structure. In the social system, there exists style the culture of the Society.

The individual members of the society will have certain values, beliefs, and emotional attitudes that make up the community’s culture of which political attitudes are a part. Such social behavior has its basis in society’s cutlery, and, similarly, political behavior has its basis in the political culture.

Political culture is a pattern of individual values, beliefs, and emotional attitudes. Individual notions of what IS right or wrong, good and bad in political affairs, make up the value patter. The pattern of norms of what it is considered ought to be. Closely linked with such values will be the beliefs about what it really is, that is of what exists in the world of politics. The values and beliefs of an individual are such that his emotions are aroused in politics. Such political emotions sustain values and beliefs and are evoked by symbols.

If a political culture were merely the individual writ large, one might speak of a completely homogeneous culture. However, it is more it is a unique pattern of values and beliefs and emotional attitudes of individuals’ collection. In the modern world, while the degree of cultural differences is relatively small in some countries, differences will undoubtedly be found. Such heterogeneity of a political culture rests in differences between groups’ political culture and m differences between individuals.

Where the differences between a group and the whole are substantial, there is a political sub-culture. In some countries, the military form just such a group; in others, the political culture of the bureaucracy, the parliamentarians, an extremist party, a particular race, caste, class, or religion may provide a political sub-culture. In any individual case, one, few, or many subcultures may exist. India is a notable example of many sub-cultures, and her unity is born out of this diversity.

A political sub-culture most likely to be found is that of rulers and the governed. Within the group of rulers, there may be many who retain important elements of the mass’s political culture. Still, those Who exercise vast influence are found, in general, to vary from the many in their orientation to politics. To take the example of India, again, there exists in common parlance the congress culture.

The important political values and beliefs of a society concern the political arrangements as whole particular institutions and policies of how they are produced, and the place of the individual within the political Process. At the general level, members’ value on the total political unit-the nation in a nation-State is especially significant.

The value placed on the overall political unit and other units, such as the tribe, the region, even the village, is reflected in a hierarchy of loyalties. Depending on the placing of units in the hierarchy, nationalism or particularism will predominate. In modern industrial communities, individuals now commonly identify with the nation. Nevertheless, strong intro-national loyalties are found even in developed countries, for example, in Belgium and Canada.

They are more intense in India. After the country’s independence in 1947, regionalism reasserted itself more vigorously, and today, particularism is the norm; universalism is the exception. Recently, it has been coupled with fundamentalism, which is really a disturbing phenomenon.

Political beliefs are symbolized in every society. Certain of these symbols and symbolic activities are obvious enough. The flag, singing of the national anthem, Republic and Independence Day celebrations, and martyrdom of Gandhi, father of the Indian nation, draw attention to national identity and reinforce it.

In long-established nation-States, such symbols, such as the public display of the constitutional document and recitation of its contents by schoolchildren in the United States or the British Parliament’s opening by the Monarch, is to sustain the commitment to the nation.

In newly independent counties, such symbols may need to be created and manipulated to produce allegiance or strengthen it where it is weak. There is no difficulty in providing examples of symbols appropriate for all levels of political values and beliefs. Their number is evidence of their importance and their ability to survive.

Political culture is not static. Its characteristics may change due to the import of alien ideas, industrialization, new leaders’ impact, population changes, and many other factors. The continuity of the culture, even in the face of such occurrences, is a sign of the protectiveness of the process by which political culture is passed from generation to generation the process of political socialization.

Political Socialization:

Political socialization is how the values, beliefs, and emotions of a political culture are passed on to succeeding generations. The process starts at an early age and continuities throughout life. The institutions of family, school, church, workgroups, political party and so on being its agencies, and they together go to cement the cultural heritage of these; the family is the first in order of time and order of Importance, in directing the outcome.

The family is the most natural and the least formal institution. It constitutes the earliest environment of man and exercises a great formative influence on him. While offering its members a natural and comfortable shelter within the available insane, it introduces them very easily to the wider aspects of social life. In the family, the child learns attitudes towards others, including those in authority, both inside and outside the family.

He learns to differentiate between himself and others and to ascertain actions and persons more highly than others; the contribution of the family in the whole process of socialization of the individual will depend, among other things, on the extent to which the family differentiates itself from others, for example, a black family in a white community, the degree of mobility in that society and the valuation of the family by loyalty within the culture.

Next to the family is the school, which sharpens the intellect to understand the values and beliefs’ implications. But the outcome of early schooling also varies. It will clearly differ according to whether the school system is governmental, denominational, or public, highly centralized and uniform, and the extent to which educators encourage a questioning attitude to the knowledge transferred.

In denominational institutions and societies in Pakistan and other Islamic countries where religion and politics are inseparable, political socialization moves in one direction. Therefore, it is highly indoctrinated and not conducive to the value of direct citizenship or civics education.

The outcome of the process will reflect the impact upon his peer group’s individual, a friendly group more or less of the same age-group sharing similar problems. Under pressures within this group and as a result of higher education and or employment, he will have more or less standard expectations of how he and others will behave in political situations.

He may be of a traditionally expected group to go into politics, as others might be expected to follow the family trade or profession. Alternatively,  he may be of a group that traditionally keeps out of politics. From whichever group he comes from, he will have political expectations, including a level of participation, an attitude to political change, and an attitude towards the influence structure.

In developed countries, like the United States and Sweden, remarks James S. Coleman, The socializing influence of parents and teachers begins to decrease in early adolescence and from their Peer groups exercise increasingly important influences on political attitudes and behavior And as a person still grows older, other influences as necessitated by circumstances and prevailing conditions and environment create their impact which is more enduring.

Two other important agencies that contribute to political socialization are the political party and the mass media. A political party is a free association of men, organized for promoting by their collective effort a particular set of principles and polities calculated to further the nation’s interest.

The party has become a vital instrument of molding and shaping public opinion, whose tone is largely determined by the party leaders’ character, intelligence, and integrity. A party holds together and thrives by such psychological forces as sympathy, imitation, competition, and pugnacity. The parties keep the political issues alive; each party explains their own perspective through various communication channels at its command.

Their discussion and propaganda mobilize political action and choose the electors to select their rulers and their program. Trust is the keyword in political culture. The response to particular pro e will reflect the amount of trust for a patty within the political realm. Disagreement about values is an obvious source of political conflict. Sides are readily taken on all such issues.

As a consequence of ordering competing men and measures, the political parties create and open communication lines between governors and the governed. The government may govern more effectively, oppositions oppose, and the many react.

Free discussion of public affairs from the platform, the press, and other media, which are numerous in complex societies whether pluralistic or totalitarian, is a vital process in the mobilization of political socialization, for it is through these agencies that issues are presented, discussed in their various aspects and public opinion is formed.

A free press is a fearless press, and Lippmann attached so much importance to the daily press that he called it the bible of democracy an epitome of citizenship. Similarly, the radio, the television, and the cinema are effective media for educating the people in public affairs and, thereby stirring their sense of political socialization, provided the opinion they shape is net manufactured. The mass media are a monopoly controlled by the State. Public opinion is largely what it is made to be Such conditions are not conducive to the development of political socialization.

SAKHRI Mohamed
SAKHRI Mohamed

I hold a Bachelor's degree in Political Science and International Relations in addition to a Master's degree in International Security Studies. Alongside this, I have a passion for web development. During my studies, I acquired a strong understanding of fundamental political concepts and theories in international relations, security studies, and strategic studies.

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