Political Science

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Sociology, Economics


Political Science is the systematic study of governance by the application of empirical and generally scientific methods of analysis. Traditionally focus has been on the state and its organs and institutions, now it is broader : all the societal, cultural, and psychological factors that mutually influence the operation of government and the body politic. There is a strong focus on power — defined as the ability of one political actor to get another actor to do what it wants — at the international, national, and local levels.

Political science studies institutions and behaviour, favours the descriptive over the normative, and develops theories or draws conclusions based on empirical observations, which are expressed in quantitative terms where possible.

There seems to be a constant debate on the usefulness of political science research to solve the problems in society. Especially in the US, focus has been on quantitative research and cause and effect relationships and statistical methods and mathematics-based models, which means that research should stay away from policy and concentrate on science.

The journal Perspectives on Politics http://www.apsanet.org/content_3246.cfm was created by the American Political Science Association http://www.apsanet.org/ to bridge this growing divide between science and policy after, in 2000, an anonymous political scientist who called himself Mr. Perestroika roused scores of colleagues to protest APSA and its flagship journal, The American Political Science Review, arguing that the two were marginalising scholars who focused on traditional research based on history, culture and archives.

Divisions & Traditions

Major fields

Political Theory - classical political philosophy (socialism, liberalism, conservatism, anarchism) , contemporary theoretical perspectives (e.g., constructivism, critical theory, and postmodernism) , forms of government (democracy, totalitarianism, tyranny, despotism, monarchy), forms of political action (coups, revolutions, elections), domestic politics (public opinion), and concerned with rights, justice, freedom, and political obligation. Theorising The State.

Comparative politics - politics within countries (often grouped into world regions, see also Area Studies) and analyzes similarities and differences between countries ;

International Relations considers the political relationships and interactions between countries, including the causes of war, the formation of foreign policy, international political economy, and the structures that increase or decrease the policy options available to governments ;

Public Administration studies the role of the bureaucracy, national government, state, local or regional governments ;

Public Law studies constitutions, legal systems, civil rights, and criminal justice (now increasingly its own discipline) ;

Public Policies examines the passage and implementation of all types of government policies, particularly those related to civil rights, defense, health, education, economic growth, urban renewal, regional development, and environmental protection.


• From sociology: accommodation, aggregate, assimilation, élite circulation, clique, cohesion, collective behavior, hierarchy, ideal-type, individualism, legitimacy, mass media, mass society, militarism, nationalism, pattern variables, Protestant ethic, secular, segregation, social class, social control, social integration, social structure, socialization, status inconsistency, working class, Gemeinschaft–Gesellschaft.

• From psychology: affect, alienation, ambivalence, aspiration, attitude, behavior, consciousness, dependency, empathy, personality, social movement, stereotype, Gestalt.

• From economics: allocation of resources, cartel, corporatism, diminishing returns, industrial revolution, industrialization, liberalism, mercantilism, gross national product, scarcity, undeveloped areas.

• From philosophy and the ancient Greeks: anarchism, aristocracy, consensus, democracy, faction, freedom, general will, idealism, monarchy, oligarchy, phratry, pluralism, tyranny, value, Weltanschauung.

• From anthropology: acculturation, affinity, caste, nepotism, patriarchy, plural society, rites de passage.

• From theology: anomie (disregard of divine law), charisma.

• From journalists and politicians: imperialism, internationalism, isolationism, Left and Right, lobbying, neutralism, nihilism, patronage, plebiscite, propaganda, socialism, syndicalism.


Carole Pateman


Blogs Blogportal Political Science http://www.academicblogs.org/index.php/Political_Science_and_Political_Theory

Logosjournal http://www.logosjournal.com/ left-leaning; Polysigh http://polysigh.blogspot.com/ Political Science multi-blog; Daniel Drezner http://drezner.foreignpolicy.com/ ; Jim Johnson http://politicstheoryphotography.blogspot.com/ ; Simon Jackman http://jackman.stanford.edu/blog/ ; Crooked Timber http://crookedtimber.org/ ;


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