Introduction to Political Science Notes 11th Political Science for Tnpsc Exam
11th Political Science Lesson 1 Notes in English
1. Introduction to Political Science
What is Politics?
- The term ‘Politics’ is closely related to the Greek word ‘Polis’ meaning ‘city-state’ (for affairs of the cities-for affairs of the state).
- The study of politics dates back to 5th century BCE Greece with immense contributions by political philosophers Plato (428/427 BCE – 348/347 BCE) and Aristotle (384 BCE- 322 BCE). Before the 20th century, the study of politics was integrated with other disciplines such as history and philosophy.
Origin of Political Science
- Politics was primarily concerned with the study of ethics. It further focused on the study of political ideas, political institutions and processes within states and the relations between states.
- But the last two centuries witnessed the study of politics concentrating on the conflict between liberty and equality.
- In the 21st century, a central theme has been the constant conflict between liberty and security.
- Some other major themes that are not central to the study of politics are development, environmental sustainability, gender equality and international peace and co-operation.
- All through history, political philosophers have different perspectives on the central theme of politics.
- The Greek philosopher Aristotle, the father of Political Science, considered the study of politics as a systematic inquiry to understand the truth about politics so as to explain the relationship between the State and the individual.
- He described and classified different political systems. Aristotle and Plato made immense contributions to the origin and development of the discipline.
- Plato analyzed different political systems and Aristotle, closely following the trails of his teacher Plato, gave the analysis a historical perspective.
- They tried to understand the working of different forms of governments.
- Politics was a matter of discussion in the churches during the medieval period as political power remained with the church under the Holy Roman Empire.
- The works of philosophers such as St. Augustine (‘The City of God’) amalgamated the principles of political philosophy with those of religion.
- It must be noted here that for the Greek and medieval philosophers, politics was a knowledge centering on the city-state, which by and large had spiritual bond.
- It was more of a community than a state.
- It was during the Italian Renaissance that Niccolo Machiavelli laid the foundations of modern political science through his emphasis on empirical observation and investigation of political structures and political behaviour from a secular perspective.
- Politics, in the words of Harold Lasswell, an American Political Scientist, is ‘Who gets What, When and How?’
- This definition is based on the assumption that all societies exhibit sharp diversities with people pursuing different interests and values and hence there requires a mechanism through which the conflicting interests are reconciled.
Politics through basic concepts
- Also, scarcity of resources is a feature of all modern societies and so politics would mean the mechanism through which goods and resources are distributed.
- For Karl Marx, politics was all about class conflict and political power and to David Easton politics meant ‘the authoritative allocation of values’.
- Political scientists have explained politics through its basic concepts such as power, order and justice.
- Power is the ability to make and enforce rules and to influence the behaviour of the individuals.
- Power may or may not be legitimate. One needs to understand the difference between power and authority.
- Authority is the moral or legal right and is the ability to control.
- It implies legitimacy, where power is exercised through established institutions and people willingly accept it as proper and just.
- Power, on the other hand, may or may not be legitimate.
- Politics is also concerned about order which denotes the structures, rules, rituals, procedures and practices that make up the political system.
- As the majority is ruled by the minority, there is always an apprehension of the fairness of the government mechanism.
- Therefore, the exercise of power should be based on the foundations of justice.
- Thus, power, order and justice are regarded the basic concepts in politics.
- Since the late 19th century, the study of politics as an academic discipline is commonly referred to as ‘Political Science’.
- The switch from ‘Politics’ to ‘Political Science’ occurred as the discipline began to emerge as an autonomous discipline in the modern period.
- The term politics referred to the affairs of the city state, which was a small community, in the ancient Greece.
- But the term nowadays refers to as Gilchrist says, ‘current problems of the government’.
- It means that when someone says he is interested in politics it implies that he is involved in several political activities relating to political issues, legislations, labour issues, party activities and the rest which has far wider canvass.
- On the other hand, the political studies are distinct and hence they need to be differentiated from current problems. Further, politics in one country differ from the others.
- What is ‘politics’ in India may not mean the same in other places. But ‘political science’ will mean one and the same thing everywhere.
Political Science school were established
- Hence it would be better to name the discipline as Political Science than as Politics.
- The Political Scientists who met at Paris in 1948 also found the term ‘Political Science’ more acceptable.
- It is not appropriate to use the two terms as synonyms, though a few still prefer to style the discipline also as politics.
- The important developments in Political Science since the time it became a distinct academic discipline occurred in the United States.
- Until then, Politics was a part of disciplines such as philosophy, law and economics.
- Political Science as an autonomous discipline dates back to 1880 when John W. Burgess established a School of Political Science at the Columbia University.
- By 1920’s most of the leading Universities established an exclusive department for the study of Political Science.
- The American Political Scientists showed tremendous interest in this direction and took efforts to separate it from history, law and philosophy.
- The discipline then had very formalistic and institutional approach and this trend continued up to the Second World War.
- But later, scholars such as Woodrow Wilson and Frank Goodnow stressed more on the study of social facts over the study of static institutions.
- There was a conscious effort by scientists such as Arthur Bentley to develop an objective, value-free analysis of politics and the principle impetus in this regard came during the 1920’s from the Chicago University.
- Charles E. Merriam was the leading figure in this movement for empirical observation and measurement in political analysis.
Political Behaviourism Arouse
- Charles E. Merriam’s ‘Political Power’ and Harold Lasswell’s ‘Politics: Who Gets What, When, How?’ made the aspect of power the central theme of politics.
- The totalitarian regimes in Europe and Asia in the 1920’s and 30’s and the onset of the Second World War turned the discipline away from its focus on institutions and procedures.
- Works during this phase focused more on political parties, pressure groups, elites and the basis of electoral choices.
- This new focus on political behaviour came to be known as ‘behaviouralism’.
- The term was borrowed from ‘behaviourism’ in psychology.
- Later, the 1960’s saw the emergence of a new trend known as ‘Post-Behaviouralism’.
- It was a reaction against the orthodoxy and dominance of the behavioural methods in the study of politics.
- The call for the development of this trend was given by David Easton, who ironically, was one of the leading advocates of the behavioural revolution.
- He claimed that the behavioural method lost touch with reality and hence post- behaviouralism argued that research did not have to be necessarily value free and the emphasis had to be on relevance over precision.
- Thus, the intellectual revolution resulted in many political scientists attempting to comprehend the sociological, anthropological and psychological aspects of the study of Political Science.
- They vehemently criticized the traditional methods and its formal and parochial tools of analysis.
- They pointed out that the political theorists in the past concentrated on state, government, institutions and their formal structures and did not take into consideration the interactions between them and the subjects and failed to examine the political behaviour of humans.
- Thus, modern political analysis began to rest upon the following four principles:
- the search for comprehensive scope
- the search for realism
- the search for precision
- the search for intellectual order
Definition of Political Science
- Scholars have defined Political Science in different ways. For Garner it begins and ends with State.
- Leacock and Seeley see its dealing with government.
- Robson and Lasswell regard it as the study of power and influence. Some scholars define it as the study of political aspects of organized human society.
- But the latter one instantly enlarges the scope of political science as it tends to include everything.
- Thus Political Science has been variously defined though for most part of the history the emphasis was placed on state, its institutions, laws and processes.
- Political behaviour of individuals and groups also became a part of it after the behavioural revolution.
- The latest addition to this has been the concept of governance.
Nature of Political Science
- Human being is a social animal. They prefer company to solitude.
- Humans are never self-sufficient and depend on fellow beings for the satisfaction of their diverse needs.
- So, they have always lived in social groups. They have been a part of the society with set rules of common behaviour.
- Such a society had to be properly organized with individuals to enforce rules and regulations and also their observance had to be ensured.
- The society thus organized is called the State, the rules that govern social conduct are the laws of the State and the individuals who enforce the same and ensure their observance is the government.
- Thus, Political Science deals with human being in relation to the State and government.
- It is the study of humans in the process of governing themselves.
- Political Science is concerned with the theory and practice of politics. It describes and analyzes political systems and political behaviour.
- It traces the origin and development of State. It studies the associations and institutions related to the State.
- Political Science attempts to explain what men and women do in political situations.
- At the initial stages the discipline was closely aligned with subjects such as history and philosophy.
- The American Political Science Association founded in 1903 made efforts to separate the study of politics from other social sciences such as history and economics.
- At the later stages, when scientific approach became the order of the day it was aligned with disciplines such as psychology and anthropology.
- The behavioural revolution stressed on the need for a scientific and systematic analysis of individual and group behaviour.
- With the advent of Post-Behaviouralism, relevance to social problems along with political facts became the focus of Political Science.
Scope of Political Science
- Scope of the discipline implies its jurisdiction or subject-matter. Political Science covers a vast field.
- Basically it is seen as a study of State. The state is located on a territory with its own people and a government to maintain and promote orderly and happier life.
- Hence the scope of the discipline takes a quantum jump. Further the human nature will not remain static.
- Men Change and the scope of the discipline keep expanding.
- As the subject matter of political science includes enacting legislations that binds every one and every other activity its areas of inquiry also includes fields like economics, commerce, sociology, law, etc.,
- In the year 1948, the International Political Science Association mentioned the following as the Scope of Political Science;
- Political Theory
- Political Institutions
- Political Dynamics
- International Relations
- As the scope of Political Science cannot be limited to the above mentioned sub-disciplines, the following diagram illustrates the broad scope of Political Science.
- Political Science primarily studies the problems of the State and Government.
- State possesses the authority to frame rules for governing its people. The State executes its will through the government.
- The government is an agency of the State. Some political theorists such as Bluntschli have restricted the scope of Political Science to the study of State alone as they believe the State includes also the government.
Political Science is important for Politics
- The government is considered the part and parcel of the State.
- On the other hand, other writers such as Karl Deutsch opines that Political Science deals only with the government.
- Scholar such as Harold Laski argue that Political Science is the study of both state and government.
- Despite the fundamental differences between the state and government, the scope of one cannot be separated from that of the other.
- The scope of Political Science includes the study of the past, present and future developments of the State.
- Political Theory is an important component of Political Science. It includes political thought and philosophy and further explains the basic concepts of the discipline.
- Political Science examines the nature, structure and working of political institutions.
- It undertakes a comparative analysis of different constitutions and governments. The scope of the discipline also includes the study of contemporary forces in government and politics.
- This includes the study of political parties, interest groups and pressure groups.
- An empirical study of political dynamics explains the political behaviour of individuals, groups and organizations.
- Most importantly, Political Science throws light on the relationship between individuals and the state.
- Consequently, modem political scientists under the behavioural and systems approach have widened the scope of political science to cover many more aspects like political socialization, political culture, political development and informal structures like pressure groups, etc.
- Moreover, the study of International Relations which includes diplomacy, international laws and international organizations also come within the purview of Political Science.
- It is also a study of Public policy explaining the governmental and non-governmental responses to public issues.
Is Political Science, a Science or an Art?
- There is a great debate on the scientific nature of Political Science. Some scholars consider it a science of the State and the Government.
- While others are of the opinion that it is one of the most backward of all the arts.
- Writers like Auguste Comte and Maitland are of the opinion that social sciences lack scientific character as there is no consensus of opinion among experts on its nature, methods and approaches.
- It lacks continuity and development and the elements that constitute a basis of precision.
- There are no universal principles and the scientific methods of observation and experimentation may not be applicable to Political Science.
- The elements of reliability, verifiability, precision and accuracy found in natural sciences are absent in Political Science.
- There is no uniformity in the principles of Political Science and it does not strictly observe the relation of cause and effect as the other sciences do.
- Similarly we do not find that exactness and absoluteness in Political Science as it is found in Physics and Chemistry.
- Hence several scholars identify it with Arts. On the other hand, some writers argue that Political Science is the science of state and government.
- Aristotle was the first one to call it as a supreme science. Writers such as Bodin, Hobbes, Montesquieu and Bluntschli subscribe to this view.
Politics has no uniformity and no universal principles
- Dr. Garner defines science as knowledge relating to a particular subject acquired by a systematic study, observation or experience.
- If science is thus defined, conclusions in Political Science are also drawn after systematic study, observation or experience.
- Though Political Science cannot claim of universal laws as in the case of natural sciences, there are conclusions that can be proven.
- For instance, it cannot be denied that democracy is the most suited form of government in pluralistic societies and that it is best possible one to promote social welfare.
- This conclusion was derived after a systematic study of the other forms of governments in different parts of the world during the ancient, medieval and modern period.
- There is no consensus among scholars on the nature, methods and principles of the discipline as it engages in the study of human beings and the institutions manned by them.
- These institutions adapt themselves to changing needs of human life and hence scholars are also of different views and opinions.
Political Scientist gives their opinion
- Nevertheless, all Political Scientists unanimously agree that Imperialism, Colonialism, inequality, illiteracy and poverty affect the society at large.
- Though Political Science does not strictly adhere to the theory of cause and effect, certain political phenomena have their own cause and effect.
- For instance, poverty and unemployment are causes that can result in the consequence of revolution.
- Hence, some writers conclude that Political Science is undoubtedly a ‘Science’.
- Though Political Science cannot be equated with the natural sciences but nevertheless, it is a social science dealing with individuals and their relations with the State and government.
- One can say that, whether Political Science could be seen as an Art or Science would largely depend on the chosen subject matter for the study and the approaches used to carry out the study.
- Several activities – political, economic, social, religious, etc continuously and simultaneously take place in societies.
- These activities involve individuals, groups, institutions as well as other internal and external actors.
- All these activities and all those involved in such activities are governed and controlled by the actions of the state through its laws.
- There is an obligation on the part of the subjects / citizens to abide by the laws. No one can say I am above the law.
Politics framed law to lead Government
- Violation of law is punishable. The government has the authority to punish those violators as it has the responsibility to maintain peace and order in a society besides ensuring the security of all its subjects / citizens.
- Hence whether you like it or not you are bound by the laws.
- Note the following: The inborn child has been given certain rights There are restrictions regarding the age of entry in schools, for which you need birth certificate from municipal administration.
- You finish your studies…but you need the certificates …to get a job…
- Once in job you start earning… but you have to pay tax…
- At some point you get married…but be careful….. you and your spouse should have crossed the minimum age limit required by law to get married..
- Then you buy a house… bound by laws relating to housing loans…subsequently you need to pay property tax to the local administration..
- At some point you retire… and the benefits you might get are defined by law…. One day you leave this world…
- Your wards need death certificate… legal heir certificate…. etc…
- Further, the safety and security of your life, property, possessions are ensured by the laws.. The police, military, Judiciary take care of this…
- Every activity in life is subject to laws …
- Education, business, societal activities, electoral participation, your rights, liberty, all day-today activities are subject to certain rules and regulations conditioned by law…
- Remember, all such laws are defined, framed, enforced by the state, government and other political / administrative agencies.
- No one can stay out of this… Hence studying political science becomes all the more important.
Approaches to the Study of Political Science
- An approach is the way of looking at a political phenomenon and then explaining it. The approaches and methods to the study of Political Science are many.
- There are both traditional and modern or scientific approaches.
- The traditional approaches are highly speculative and normative and the modern approaches are more empirical and scientific in nature.
I. Traditional Approaches
i. Philosophical Approach
- It is the oldest approach to the study of politics. It is also known as speculative, metaphysical or ethical approach.
- The study of state, government and the political behaviour of man is intricately linked with the quest for achieving certain goals, morals or truths.
- Here, the discipline moves closer to the world of ethics.
- The approach is criticized for being highly speculative and abstract.
ii. Historical Approach
- This approach throws light on the past and traces the origin and development of the political institutions.
- It seeks to study the role of individuals and their motives, accomplishments and failures in the past and its implications for the future.
- In understanding the political issues of today, the help of historical parallels are sought.
- However, critics argue that historical parallels can be illuminating, but at the same time they can also be misleading as it is loaded with superficial resemblances.
iii. Legal Approach
- The study of politics is linked with the study of legal institutions created by the State for the maintenance of the political organization.
- As the State is engaged in the maintenance of law and order, the study of judicial institutions become the concern of political theorists.
- This approach looks at the State as an organization primarily concerned with the creation and enforcement of law.
- However, critics argue that this approach has a narrow perspective.
- The State has various other functions to perform other than enforcement of law and order.
- Laws deal with only one aspect of an individual’s life and do not enable the complete understanding of his political behaviour.
iv. Institutional Approach
- This approach is also known as the structural approach.
- It lays stress on the formal structures of the political organization such as legislature, executive and judiciary.
- The informal structures are also studied and a comparative study of the governmental systems are encouraged.
- However, this approach is criticized for laying too much emphasis on formal and informal structures and ignoring the role of individual in those institutions.
II. Modern Approaches
i. Sociological Approach
- This approach emphasizes on the understanding of the social context to explain the political behaviour of the members of the community.
- The state is considered primarily as a social organism and politics is understood through the sociological factors.
- But critics are of the opinion that too much of emphasis on the social context can affect the very autonomy of the discipline.
ii. Psychological Approach
- This approach studies and explains political and social institutions through psychological laws.
- It assumes that the psychological analysis of political leaders reveals significant knowledge about politics.
- However, this approach ignores the sociological, legal and economic factors in the study of politics.
iii. Economic Approach
- As matters pertaining to production and distribution of goods are regulated by the State, the economic matters also become a concern for the political theorists.
- This approach emphasizes on the role of the State in regulating the economic matters and argues that economic affairs are intimately linked to the political process of the State.
- The approach is inclined towards linking and understanding the political and economic life of individuals.
- However, the approach takes into account only the economic factors and ignores other factors such as social and psychological factors.
iv. Behavioural Approach
- This approach focuses on political behaviour and studies the attitudes and preferences of humans in the political context.
- Thus, the study of politics moved its focus from formalism and normativism to the study of political behaviour.
- However, critics argue that this approach is based on a false conception of scientific methods.
v. Marxist Approach
- This approach is basically different from the other modern approaches. It perceives State as an inevitable consequence of class contradictions.
- It assumes that there is a continuous interaction between the political and economic forces and separating one from the other is not possible.
- However, this approach gives undue importance to the economic factors and ignores the other important factors.
- After careful analysis of the approaches, it is understood that each approach has its own relevance in the study of political phenomenon and also suffer from certain limitations.
III. Relationship with other Social Sciences
i. Political Science and History
- The state and its institutions are a product of slow historical growth and Political Science uses historical facts to discover general laws and principles.
- Political History is the narrative of political events and movements.
- The relationship between History and Political Science is well explained by Freeman as he says ‘History is past Politics and Politics is present History’.
- John Seeley adds to it through his quote, ‘History without Political Science has no fruit, Political Science without History has no root’.
ii. Political Science and Economics
- Economics was considered a branch of Political Science and in fact, the Greeks called Political Science by the name of Political Economy.
- Political Economy attempts to understand how political institutions, political environment and economy influence each other.
- Historians have explained as to how groups with common economic interests have utilized the political process and environment to effect changes for their own benefit.
- The study of Political Science and Economics are directed towards the same end providing the best possible life for its people.
iii. Political Science and Ethics
- Philosophy is closely associated with ethics.
- Ethics deals with morality and formulates rules and regulations governing the behaviour of individuals in the society.
- Ethics is the science of moral order and Political Science is the science of political order.
- Both Political Science and Ethics aim at the noble and righteous life of humans.
iv. Political Science and Sociology
- Political Science and Sociology are intimately related and it is Sociology that provides the basic information regarding the origin and evolution of state and other political institutions.
- Political Science is also called as Policy Science and policies of the State cannot be formulated without the careful analysis of the social needs of the people.
- Political Science provides information to Sociology about the organization and functions of the state and how the policies and programmes of the State affect the society at large.
v. Political Science and Psychology
- Psychology deals with all the aspects of human behaviour while Political Science deals only with the political behaviour of humans.
- Psychology throws light on why individuals and groups behave in a certain manner.
- It aids Political Science in understanding the behaviour of political parties and varied other groups in the state.
- Barker rightly says, ‘The application of psychological clue to the riddles of human activity has indeed become the fashion of the day.
- If our forefathers thought biologically, we think psychologically’.
vi. Political Science and Public Administration
- Political Science is closely related to Public Administration and in fact, the term ‘public’ denotes ‘government’ though Public Administration also includes the study of non-governmental organizations.
- Public Administration is the implementation of governmental policies and Political Science deals with the process of policy formulation.
- There is a similarity in the objective of Political Science and Public Administration as they both aim at optimum use of resources and social welfare.
- Thus, we understand that Political Science is the systematic study of governance by the application of empirical and scientific methods of analysis.
- Though it involves empirical investigations, it does not generally produce precise predictions.
- Political Science examines the state and its organs and institutions. It also encompasses the study of societal, cultural, economic and psychological factors that influence the government.
- It borrows heavily from the other social sciences but its focus on power differentiates it from the other disciplines.
- Apart from power, Political Science also focuses on comparative politics, international relations, political theory, public law and public policy.
- Most importantly, the study of Political Science gives us the basic understanding of the political process, the system of government and the way in which it affects the life of every citizen.
More To Know:
- The world around is clearly a political world. All mankind has been drawn into some political association through which men engage in operation and conflict. –D.G. Hitchner
- Power is a relationship in which one group of persons are able to determine the actions of the others in the direction of the former’s own end.- David Easton
- Power breeds power and this form the central tenet of elitism.- Robert Michel
- There is a limited amount of power in society, which can only be held by one person or group at a time. – Karl Marx
- Man is by nature a political animal and he, who by nature and not by mere accident is without state is either above humanity or below it. – Aristotle
- Political Science is a science which is concerned with the State, endeavors to understand and comprehend the State in its essential nature, various forms, manifestations and development. – Bluntschli
- Political Science deals with the origin, development, purpose and all political problems of the State.- Garris
- The study of Politics concerns itself with the life of men in relation to organizedstates.- Harold Laski Political Science investigates the phenomena of government as Political Economy deals with Wealth, Biology with Life, Algebra with Numbers and Geometry withSpace and Magnitude. – Seeley Political Science is an empirical enquiry in the study of shaping and sharing of power. – Harold Laswell It is the historical study of the past, analytical study of the present and ethical study of the future.-Gettel Political Science is the process by which scarce resources- human, economic, spiritual are allocated within a social limit, be it a city, a state, a nation or an organization for the purpose of providing for human needs and desires. – David Easton
- Whoever you are or want to be, you may not be interested in politics, but politics is interested in you. – Marshall Bermen
- ARISTOTLE ON HAPPINESS – Aristotle believed that happiness was the most important thing in life. He taught that one should not waste one’s time in the pursuits of pleasure, but should seek happiness instead. According to him, true happiness lay not in material things, but in understanding one’s true nature, and regaling one’s full potential. In short, happiness depends upon ourselves, and not on the outside world. One of Aristotle’s most famous quotes is “…happiness is the meaning and the purpose of life, the whole aim and end of human existence…”
“Tryst with Destiny”
- The following is the report by The Hindu on 14.8.1947delivered by the first Prime Minister of India Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru.
- “Long years ago, we made a tryst with destiny and now the time comes when we shall redeem our pledge, not wholly or in full measure, but very substantially, declared India’s first premier, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, moving the resolution prescribing an Oath for the members in the Constituent Assembly to-night.
- “At the stroke of midnight hour,” Pandit Nehru said, “when the world sleeps, India will awake to life and freedom. (chers) The moment come, it comes but rarely in history, when we step our from the old to the new, when an age ends, and when the soul of a nation, long suppressed, finds utterance. It is fitting that at this solemn moment we take the pledge of dedication to the service of India and her people and to the still larger cause of humanity”.
- “Freedom and power bring responsibility. That responsibility rests upon the Assembly, a sovereign body representing the sovereign people of India. Before the birth of freedom, we have endured all the pains of labour and our hears are heavy with the memory of this sorrow. Some of those pains continue even now. Nevertheless, the past is over and it is the future that backons to us now.
- The service of India means the service of the millions who suffer, it means the ending of poverty and ignorance and disease and inequality of opportunity. The ambition of the greatest man of our generation has been to wipe every tear from every eye. That may be beyond us, but so long as there are tears and suffering, so long our work will not be over. And so we have to labour and to work and work hard to give reality our dreams. Those dreams are for India, but they are also for the world, for all the nations and peoples are too closely knit together to day for any one of them to imagine that it can live apart.
- Peace has been said to be indivisible, so is freedom, so is prosperity now, and so is prosperity now, and so also is disaster in this one world that can no longer be split into isolated fragments”.