What is the Scope of Political Science?

The scope of Political-Science means the subject matter or content of Political Science. Various Political thinkers are not in agreement about the exact scope of politics. The lack of precise definition and terminology have created confusion regarding the subject matter of Political Science. Despite the ambiguity and controversy in the field various aspects included in the study of political science are as follows :-

A conference of political thinkers held in Sept 1948 at the UNESCO House decided the scope of Political Science.

1. Political Science Is the Study of Political Theories

Over the centuries, Political scientists have concerned themselves with formulating political theories and political ideas. e.g., Plato explained theory of Ideal State, Theory of justice, Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau explained theory of origin of state. These theories enable us to organize their observations and offer a foundation on which future observations and analysis can be based.

2. Political Institutions

Study of Political Science includes the study of various constitutions, various systems of government their merits, demerits etc. eg. Whether it is parliamentary, presidential, dictatorial, democratic, coalition form of government. Such a study helps us to reform out political institutions in order to realize our goals.

3. Political Parties and Pressure Groups

It studies the various systems of political parties, their role and importance. Pressure groups and interest groups are becoming more important. Political science studies their role, methods etc. in a given political system. This makes the study of Political – Science more realistic. Opposition political parties, pressure groups Non-Governmental organizations (NGOS) do not directly form the government. They indirectly influence governmental policies and decisions. Hence the study of governance (act of governing) is incomplete if it is limited to the study of government.

4. International Relations

It includes the study of international organization, and policles. States do not live in isolation. Domestic Policy and foreign Policy are interrelated. Hence the study of international relations becomes significant more in the times of globalization.

5. Study of the Relationship Between Government and Civil Society

The state is comprised of two entities : government and civil society. Both entities influence governance in different ways. Civil society includes citizens, Non- governmental Organization (NGOS), pressure groups, opposition Political parties. Civil society influence governance indirectly, by influencing the government and convincing it to adopt certain policies. Whereas the government possesses the power and authority to influence governance directly. Hence the relationship between government and civil society is an important determinant of governance in the state. Political Science Studies this relationship in order to better understand the nature of the state and the efficacy of governance.

6. Study of Power, Authority, Influences, Political Activities, Political Processes

Political Science is normative as well as empirical. Normative approach of Political Science studies norms, ideals, morals, principles, philosophy of Political Science eg. What should be the nature of the state etc. Empirical approach of political Science observes and analyses political activities and institutions as they are in a scientific way.

Morgenthau said scope of Political-Science includes three branches :- a) Political Sociology b) Political theory c) Political Institutions. Modern political Scientists feel that man’s social life is an integrated whole. Any change in man‟s social environment have repercussions on man‟s political life. The modern state cannot escape from that impact of the social, psychological, economic and cultural forces. According to Leacock Political Science must not content itself with a mere analysis of Political institutions as existing at any given time, it must take account of the process of change and evolution, and the alteration of social and intellectual environment.”

7. Master Science

Aristotle called political science the „Master Science‟ because Politics determines the environment within which every person will organize his life. No one can claim that he has nothing to do with Politics. No one can escape from the parameters set by politics. The ancient Greeks never made any distinction between man‟s personal life and political life. According to them Politics is the total study of man, Society, State, Morality etc.

8. Study of Political System and Its Environments

Varied political systems exist and function in different environment. Political science studies them with reference to the response given and feedback secured. The policies of one system have an impact on the other systems. Also political decisions are not made in vacuums. These are influenced by economic structure, social institutions and the whole environment in which the state functions.

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