Here is a compilation of essays on ‘Political Science’ for class 11 and 12. Find paragraphs, long and short essays on ‘Political Science’ especially written for school and college students.
Essay on Political Science
- Essay on the Definition of Political Science
- Essay on the Nature of Political Science
- Essay on the Scope of Political Science
- Essay on Politics as a Study of Power
- Essay on Different Theories about the Nomenclature of Political Science
- Essay on the Methods for the Study of Political Science
- Essay on the Relationship of Political Science with Other Sciences
- Essay on the Relationship of Political Science with Other Physical Sciences
- Essay on the Comparison of Political Science with Other Allied Branches of Social Sciences
Essay # 1. Definition of Political Science:
The root word of politics is the Greek term polis which means city state. So political science is concerned with the problems of city state. It is a common knowledge that the ancient Greeks made no difference between the states and cities.
This archaic meaning of politics holds good even today. So it is trite that right from the fifth century B.C. to the present twentieth century A.D. political science carries the same root meaning. So, whether one likes it or not, political science continues to be predominantly concerned with the state.
The expression “political science” has not been explained by any political thinker in a clear and scientific way. The definition given by them is rather the subject-matter of political science and not any definition as such. Whether we accept these definitions or not, there is no denying the fact that the subject-matter as hammered home by the political scientists serve as the acceptable groundwork of political science.
So Paul Janet, to begin with, defined political science as “that part of social science which treats of the foundations of the state and the principles of government. Politics means science and art of running government. Although in olden days the term was used only for the specific purpose, i.e., for administering a country, the position has undergone a tremendous metamorphosis. So Gareis is of the view that political science considers the state as an institution of power in the totality of its relations, its origin, its setting (land and people), its object, its ethical signification, its economic problems, its life conditions, its financial side, its end etc. “
The subject-matter of political science begins and ends with the state. So the Swiss Scholar J. K. Bluntschli is of the view that political science attempts to understand the state in its fundamental conditions.
The same is the view of H. G. James – “Political science may be defined as the science of the state.”
It makes a thorough study of the state in its entirety. So the state is the be-all and end-all of political science. But Stephen Butler Leacock and Sir John Seeley hold a contrary opinion. According to them, the subject-matter of politics is government, not the state as such.
Seeley explained his stand in the words:
“Political science investigates the phenomena of government as political economy deals with wealth, biology with life, algebra with numbers and geometry with space and magnitudes.”
It is for this reason that we do not find the mention of the state in the definition of political science as handed down by Stephen Butler Leacock and Sir John Seeley.
In our opinion political science is a study of both the state and the government. It is neither possible nor desirable to separate the state from the government. One cannot be divorced from the other. While the state is the dominant subject of political science, the government is the agency through which the state expresses itself.
The French scholar Paul Janet defined political science as that part of social science which deals with the foundation of the state and the principles of government. J. W. Garner makes it very comprehensive; “In a general way its fundamental problem includes, first, an investigation of the origin and nature of the state, second, an enquiry into the nature history and forms of political institutions, and third, a deduction there-from, so far as possible, of the laws of political growth and development.”
But the socialist thinker H. J. Laski triggered in the element of man in relation to the state as the focal point of political science. To say in his words – “The study of politics concerns itself with the life of man in relation to organised states.”
Thus there cannot be a study of political science minus the man or the citizen. So we may conclude with the words of Mahatma Gandhi – “The root meaning of politics is the science of citizenship.” We accept the views of Laski and Gandhi.
Essay # 2. Nature of Political Science:
As a distinct branch of activity and as a systematic study in a separate and specialised knowledge, politics has its origin in ancient Greece during the fifth century B.C. The term politics is a derivation from the Greek root polis which means city-state. Thus, from the very inception, politics became associated with the state.
The celebrated Greek thinker Aristotle handed down his book Politics which is considered the earliest European conception of the science and art of politics. It was Aristotle who broke fresh grounds by calling man “a political animal.” By that he meant that the very existence of man is one of social existence and that the contact between man and man in the society is one of political intercourse.
The above discussion gives us some rough idea about the origin of politics which was the term by which political science was understood in the west. It was the French philosopher Jean Bodin who coined the term political science (science politique) in the sixteenth century.
Since that time the two expressions politics and political science were used interchangeably to mean the same thing. From that time onward the term politics began to be used in the narrower sense to mean the science of the state. During Aristotle’s time it had a wider connotation. There was again a shift in the idea of politics in the twentieth century to go back to the days of Aristotle.
In other words, any aspect of social life which had a direct or even indirect bearing on the institution of the state falls within the domain of political science.
Essay # 3. Scope of Political Science:
The following are the issues which fall within the scope of political science:
1. Nature and Origin of the State:
Political science examines the nature, origin and end of the state. It points out the relations of the state with the individuals that compose it and at the same time suggest the relation between one state and another. The other major function of political science is its investigation into the origin of the state.
2. Development of Political Forms:
Political science studies the various forms of political institutions and theories. It makes a scientific investigation into the origin of the institutions and how the old forms were replaced by new ones. It explains various movements and tendencies from the records of history.
3. What the State Ought to be:
Political science discusses the politico- ethical aspects of what the state ought to be. It embodies the principles which influence the administration of political affairs and formulates the proper field and functions of the state. Keeping in tune with the changing ideas and political theories, it endeavours to improve the political institutions and organisations.
The above discussion makes the scope of political science three-fold:
(i) It is an analytical study of what the state is;
(ii) It is a historical enquiry of what the state was; and
(iii) It makes an ethical dogma of what the state ought to be.
In addition, political science studies government, its organs and functions and its various forms. So J. W. Garner comes to the conclusion that the scope of political science is; “The fundamental problems of the science include, first, an investigation of the nature of the state as the highest political agency for the realisation of the common ends of society and the formulation of the fundamental principles of the state life; secondly, an enquiry into the nature, history and forms of political institutions; and thirdly a deduction there-from so far as possible of the laws of political growth and development.”
We may conclude with the words of R.G. Gettel:
“Political science is concerned with the historical survey of origin, development of political ideals and theories, the analysis of the fundamental nature of the state, its organisation, relation to the individuals that compose it and its relation to other states.”
Essay # 4. Politics as a Study of Power:
Today’s political science shows a new trend in the study of power. It is the power factor that makes the state different from other associations and alienates the members from one party to other.
The advocates of the Power Theory are Harold D. Lasswell, Abraham Kaplin, H. J. Morganthau and Bertrand Russell.
The traditional view was that politics is a study of the state and government. In the modern shift it is the power which is the central point of politics.
Meaning of Power:
Power has been defined by Amitai Etzioni:
“Power is a capacity to overcome part or all of resistance to introduce changes in the face of opposition.” That power may take the form either of political, economic and ideological.
This power element creates grouping among men with clear interest and definite orbits – local, regional, national and international. So Lasswell and. Kaplan has no hesitation to say that politics is the “study of the shaping and sharing of powers.”
The English writer William Robson makes it clearer:
“It is with power in society that political science is primarily concerned. The focus of interest of the political scientist is clear and unambiguous, it centres on the struggle to gain or retain power, to exercise power or influence over others, or to resist that exercise.”
According to Michael Curtis:
“Politics is organised dispute about power and its use, involving choice among competing values ideas, persons, interests and demands. The study of politics is concerned with the description and analysis of the manner in which power is obtained, exercised and controlled, the purpose for which it is used, the manner in which decisions are made, the factors which influence the making of those decisions, and the context in which those decisions take place.”
Thus, recent trend which is a shift from the study of state to the study of power has widened the scope of enquiry and has made the subject more purposeful.
The power theory has some remarkable advantages. These advantages are capsulated by N.P. Guild and K.T. Palmer:
“One advantage that power has over earlier concepts is that it focuses attention on a process, not on a legal abstraction as state. Political science becomes the study of the way power is accumulated, used and controlled in modern society. Consequently, it includes not only the legal and formal but also the extra-legal and informal processes involved in government. Another advantage of using power as the central concept is that political science pays greater heed to man, especially the political man, as a basic unit of analysis.”
Thus present-day political science has a wide canvas – political activity, political process and political power.
In recognition of this ever-increasing scope of political science David Easton observes:
“Political science, in mid-twentieth century is a discipline in search of its identity. Through the efforts to solve this identity crisis it has begun to show evidence of emerging as an autonomous and independent discipline with a systematic theoretical structure of its own. The factor that has contributed most to this end has been the reception and integration of the methods of science into the core of the discipline.”
Essay # 5. Different Theories about the Nomenclature of Political Science:
There are various names by which the science of the state is known, they are:
ii. Political Philosophy,
iii. Theory of the State, and
iv. Political Science,
We shall discuss them one by one:
The oldest name of the subject is politics which is a derivation from the Greek word Polis meaning city-state.
It was therefore, but natural for Aristotle to connote his book dealing with this phenomenon as Politics.
But politics in modern parlance means current political affairs. Although originally politics meant science and art of running government of the country, since then situation has changed so much that now-a-days it is difficult to find a home or an office where politics has not consolidated its place. Thus the people are using politics to achieve their selfish ends.
So we hear of the Congress politics, municipal politics, university politics, etc. In such cases it stands for current and practical political affairs. A person involved in such politics is naturally called a politician.
Rajiv Gandhi was a politician and not a political philosopher because he knew the current national and international political activities. He cannot be called a political thinker or a political philosopher or a political scientist because he was never concerned with any theory of political science like the theory of origin of the state.
From the above analysis we come to the conclusion that the term “politics” is used in a narrow sense and as such the title is not appropriate to mean the science or art of the subject. So Joseph Addison, former editor of the Spectator said – “Politics is the art of getting money from the rich and votes from the poor, on the pretext of protecting each from the other.”
When Dr. Rajendra Prasad said – “Politics plays havoc occasionally and it is necessary to beware of it” – politics applies to the narrower meaning and in the bad sense. But then Neelam Sanjiva Reddy said – “For a true politician, the interest of the nation is of paramount importance rather than the spoils of power”, it is used in a good sense.
The sage view of George Bernard Shaw that politics is the last resort of the scoundrels applies to politics and not to political science. About the second concept we hear from him – “Political science is the science by which alone civilisation can be saved.”
There is, however, a school of thinkers headed by Paul Janet and Sir Fredrick Pollock who tried to retain the naming “politics” even to mean the wider dimension of the science and art of the subject by dividing the scope of politics into two broad classes.
They are theoretical politics and applied politics. According to that school, theoretical politics deals with the theoretical and philosophical aspect of the matter, while applied politics concerns itself with the constitution and administration of different governments.
Pollock’s division is on the following lines:
1. It is concerned with the theory of the state.
2. It deals with the various theories of the government.
3. It analyses the theory of legislation.
4. It deals with the theory of the state as an artificial person.
1. It deals with the actual form of the government.
2. It deals with the working of the government and administration.
3. It analyses the actual law, its procedure and courts.
4. It deals with the state personified, i.e., diplomatic relations during war, peace and other international dealings.
Although the above grouping and classification is cogent and clear, we would prefer to call the subject political science rather than theoretical politics or applied politics.
ii. Political Philosophy:
Political philosophy is another term used to mean the subject. It underlines that the study of the science of politics is mainly speculative and philosophical.
Its primary concern is with the analysis of the nature and basic attributes of the state. Its analysis of the concept of political obligations, the nature of the political authority and other allied problems are philosophical in nature. In the opinion of some important political thinkers, this is the predominant part of political science.
According to H. Sidgwick, for one, the study of political science is by and large associated with establishing the system of relations between the society and the government on the basis of certain psychological premises. It is the political philosophy which deals with the principles that underline the political institutions.
Thus political philosophy does not study the political institutions as such. Its study is broad-based and not of any particular form. It is for this reason that R. N. Gilchrist maintained that political philosophy is prior to political science in as much as the assumptions of the former are the foundations of the latter.
It is admitted in all hands that a chunk of political science may be both speculative, abstract and philosophical. Again, there is no denying the fact that the subject is concerned with particular political institutions as they existed in the past and the present.
It is a common knowledge that the analysis of the government and the constitutions forms an integral part of the subject. So we have to discard the naming of the subject as political philosophy.
iii. Theory of the State:
The socialist thinker H. J. Laski and his followers consider theory of the state as a better nomenclature than political philosophy, though both mean more or less the same thing. They prefer the theory of the state to political philosophy because the former is clearer and its boundaries are better marked than the latter.
They argue that, since the state is the central theme of the enquiry in political science, the term theory of the state is more appropriate than political philosophy. But this suggestion is not acceptable because the theory of the state does not include the structure of the government and many other issues that fall within the purview of political science. Thus the name of the theory of the state is incomplete and inadequate.
iv. Political Science:
In the absence of any better terminology we have to accept these as the working guidelines. It is for this reason that George Jellinek indignantly remarks – “There is no science which is so much in need of a terminology as is political science.” The most widely accepted nomenclature is political science.
Essay # 6. Methods for the Study of Political Science:
The methods for the study of political science are akin to the methods that are applied in other social sciences. But political science like all other social sciences cannot use the methods of mechanical instruments as are used in natural and physical sciences. A political scientist has to depend upon the data relating to political life. He has to arrange and group them and finally conclude from them.
He has to rely upon the following methods:
1. Historical Method:
History is the reservoir of social facts. It is history that tells us the origin, development and end of various social institutions.
A student of political science can draw his premises and conclusions by a study of all such institutions.
These inferences and conclusions can be useful guidelines to analyse the present and future state of social institutions. Thus history supplies us the key with which we can unlock the mysteries of various social phenomena.
History answers our questions with regard to the origin and growth of the state and other political institutions. It is from history that we learn the various forms of the government. From a study of the historical methods we can know the merits and demerits of various forms of government.
In fine, political science has its roots in history, it is therefore but natural that Aristotle, the father of political science took into considerations as many as 158 constitutions of the world. This was the background of his book the Politics.
But too much reliance on historical methods is not proper, because history seldom repeats itself. Thus what happened in the past may not take place in the future. So Lord James Bryce cautioned us against historical similarities.
According to him, the so-called historical parallelism is, very often misleading. Moreover, the accounts of history are reflections of the bias and prejudices of the historians. Their personal likes and dislikes dominate their writing.
2. The Experimental Method:
The experimental methods are very useful for all science, be it natural or social science. Like a student of natural science, like physics and chemistry, resorting to experimentation, a student of political science can also make an extensive use of experiment, though in a limited way.
For that purpose a student of political science can take resort to history by collecting data from the wide world which is a big laboratory. Thus, the socialist way of life in the erstwhile USSR, the separation of power in the USA, the limited monarchy in England, etc. are some of the experiments in political science. On the observations and analyses of these experiments some conclusions may be arrived at.
But the political scientist has a limited scope in such experimentations. This is so, because the human institutions change from time to time and place to place. The experiment may be successful in one place but may be a failure in other. Even then, the experiments like the federal system of government in the USA, sovereignty of the King-in-parliament in England and direct democracy in the cantons of Switzerland are constantly experimented.
The scope of success is always there if the experiment is done with due caution. While making a study of such experiments the subjective and objective conditions of a place are to be taken into consideration, of course, with some extra care.
3. Comparative Method:
The comparative method is one of comparing the socio-political institutions existing in the world in a particular place at a particular point of time. By such a comparison, a student of political science can draw some generalisations about that age and discover the laws underlying them. Aristotle, the father of political science made a comparative study of 158 constitutions of the world.
With this background he wrote his famous book Politics. The makers of Indian constitution studied all the constitutions of the democratic countries of Europe and put all these material in the constitution of India as they considered suitable to the conditions of India.
But the comparative method has some shortcomings. Lord James Bryce and J. W. Garner were aware of the defects of the comparative method. According to Bryce, historical comparison is usually interesting, sometimes illuminating and at the same lime misleading.
In the words of Garner:
“The danger of the comparative method lies in the possibility of error because in the effort to discover general principles, the diversity of conditions and circumstances, such as differences of temperament and genius of the people, economic and social conditions, moral and legal standards, political training and experience are apt to be ignored or minimised.”
So every social scientist must make sufficient allowance for the moral and cultural norms and the temperament of the people involved. The varying degree of success of federal and unitary forms of government in the USA and England respectively is largely responsible to the geo-political set-ups in these two countries.
4. The Observational Method:
This method makes an in-depth study of the existing social and political conditions. It is by using this method that Lord James Bryce prepared his famous treatise entitled The American Government and The Modern Democracies.
What is most necessary in the observation method is an unbiased study of social and political life of the people in different environs with utmost sympathy, intelligence and an open mind. Biased and prejudiced observations, like those of the French author of the book The City of Joy, should be ignored.
Lord James Bryce sounds his caution in the following words:
“Make sure of the fact you collect. Get it perfectly clear. Polish it till it sparkles and shines like a gem. Then connect it with other facts. Examine it in relation to others, for in that lies its worth and its significance. It is of little use alone. So make it a diamond in the necklace, a stone, perhaps a corner-stone, in your building.”
5. The Philosophical Method:
The above-mentioned methods are all inductive inasmuch as they start with actual facts, past or present, and then conclude with some generalisations on the basis of the facts studied. But there is a quite different method called the deductive or philosophical. It assumes an abstract ideal and draws deductions from it concerning the nature, functions and aims of the state.
For example, an aspect of human nature is taken into consideration and deduction is drawn about the nature of political institutions. The disadvantage with it is that it is not strictly realistic because there is always the inherent political flight which influences the deductions like Plato’s book Republic and St. Thomas More’s Utopia.
Essay # 7. Relationship of Political Science with Other Sciences:
There is a raging controversy among the political thinkers as to whether political science is really a science or not.
The school that holds a negative view maintains that there can be no such thing as a scientific study of the phenomena of the state and government because political phenomena are characterised by uncertainty, variableness and cause a lack of order and continuity.
Thus Henry Thomas Buckle and Auguste Comte made a declaration that political science can never be called a science. Buckle observed – “In the present state of knowledge, politics, far from being a science is one of the most backward of arts.” According to Herbert Spencer, political science is the most disastrous of the many political myths of the recent years.
There are three lines of argument in support of the negation of science to political science. The first line of argument is that the writers on political science have different methods and different conclusions. The second line of argument is that there is always a lack of continuity in the development of the subject.
The third line of argument is that the material on which the hypotheses are constructed are not adequate. In fine, unlike other physical sciences, there is no definiteness in the process Of political science.
But there is another school of opinion that holds that political science is really a science. They start with the definition of science. A science is defined as a systematized mass of knowledge, the conclusion of which is based on experiments and observations.
If we apply this conception, political science is bound to be a science. We know that human knowledge is divisible into two kinds of science, namely, natural sciences and humanistic or social sciences. Political science falls into the second type of science.
A scientist in this branch of study observes the facts of political life, systematises and classifies them. From such observations the political scientist deduces certain conclusions and generalises them. Thus, we find Aristotle experimenting with as many as 158 constitutions of the world. He was successful in deducing not only the causes of the revolution but prescribing panacea for curing the revolutions.
As a matter of fact, a student of political science makes a scientific study of thousands of experiments which have been conducted in the great laboratory of human history. He is never under the compulsion to go on a wild goose chase. Of late, experiments have been made in Germany about dictatorship.
Communism is undergoing a similar laboratory test in Eastern Europe. Democracy as a form of government is being experimented in India. All these experiments are of invaluable utility for the political scientists who, relying on such tests can derive definite conclusions and their applicability for all times to come.
The above discourse goes a long way to tell that the definition of science does apply to political science, because it makes a scientific study of the subject in a scientific spirit and with a scientific frame of mind. Most of the political philosophers are of the view that political science is definitely a science. Aristotle, the father of political science, called it the master science in the highest sense and he used scientific methods in the study of Greek city-states.
The French philosopher Hippoly Adolphe Taine maintained:
“There is at all events a body of positive lessons which in political matters lend precision to discussion, guide judgement and diminish the lament of speculation, exaggeration and error.” George Bernard Shaw certified that “Political science is the science by which alone civilisation can be saved.”
He therefore, has no hesitation to call it a science.
Our conclusion is that political science is indeed a science. But it is an inexact science. We must admit that the principles formulated by a political scientist as a result of observation, analysis and experiment are not as accurate as the laws of physical sciences like physics and chemistry. This will be clear if we notice the difference between political science and other physical sciences.
G. C. Lewis rightly said:
“Politics is an experimental science.” A. L. Lowell makes it clearer “Politics is an observational and not an experimental science.”
Essay # 8. Relationship of Political Science with Other Physical Sciences:
First, while political science deals with the complex social and political phenomena, physical science is concerned with simple and exact phenomena.
It is this simplicity that enables a botanist or chemist to understand the cause of an effect with certainty.
But a political scientist cannot reach that result with precision and exactness. Secondly, political science deals with the changing nature of man. Physical science, on the other hand, deals with the objects which have constant and static properties. One botanical element is always the same all over the world. If there is any variation in it, it can be tested and explained in positive terms.
But it is not possible to consider the problems of man in exactly the same way all over the world, because the problems in the society are in constant change and cannot be put under any control. The motives behind human behaviour are so complex and variable that it is difficult to conclude what is going to happen next.
So there cannot be any uniform formula or principle governing the human institutions. So, predictions about human affairs are prone to error and wrong guidance.
Thirdly, human senses are not as definite in measurement as mechanical apparatus in physics or chemistry. As a matter of fact, a social scientist does not have any microscope or barometer to employ in deducing his findings. So the chance of mistake is always more in political science than in any physical science.
Fourthly, a social scientist like a political scientist has some ethics before him. But there is no ethic for a physical scientist. For example, every social institution is associated with some good or bad attitude which is called personal bias or prejudice of the political scientist.
So we find that a Chinese supports communism, while an American holds the opposite view. So we find that Lord Millan supported the theory that every nation must have one state. But Lord Acton felt that combination of different nations in one state is the hallmark of civilisation.
But in physical science all the scientists are of the same view that milk is white and blood is red. That the earth moves around the sun is universally accepted by all the physical scientists.
Thus while Adam Smith believed in no control of government over the economic life of the individuals, Karl Marx strongly advocates for all-control by the state. It is this element of human bias which plays a predominant role in political science. All these go a long way to prove that political science is never an exact or accurate science.
Political Science and Political Sciences:
Some scholars feel that the subject political science should be used in the plural, not in the singular. This makes them use political sciences as against political science. Their reason for such pluralisation of the subject stems from the argument that the science of the, state does not consist of any particular science but a combination of various sciences. Each topic like the origin of the state, forms of government, sovereignty, liberty, etc. constitutes by itself an independent science. So there is existence of various political sciences, not one political science. But the majority of the political philosophers feel that the so-called different facets are species of the broad genus of political science. And as such, there cannot be anything like political sciences. The appropriate term should be political science.
Political Science as an Art:
There are some scholars who believe that political science is an art. Their notion of art is the practical application of knowledge for the achievement of a particular end. There is subtle distinction between the art and science aspects of politics. By learning in a scientific manner one can acquire political skill. Yet there are many aspects in political process which are basically creative and partake the nature of art. Thus politics is a subject which lands in a very queer plane, something of art and something of science.
The position is rightly delineated by Stephen L. Wasby:
“Politics is generally agreed to be an art, the art of the possible, while the study of politics is thought to be a sciences.” Thus knowledge of the component of a medicine is a science. But applying the medicine for the benefit of the patients is an art.
Similarly, knowledge of good form of government is science. But to put a good government into practical operation is art.
Our conclusion is that political science in a limited sense may be an art, but in its broad way it is definitely a science.
We may safely conclude with the words of Stephen L. Wasby :
“We think of politics as an art because a politician is judged primarily in terms of his results, although the means he uses are not unimportant. A political scientist, by comparison, is judged at least as much in terms of the methods he has used in his work as in terms of results, because the methods affect the validity of his results.”
Essay # 9. Comparison of Political Science with Other Allied Branches of Social Sciences:
Political science is one of the social sciences. For example, sociology, history, economics, ethics, etc. make a study of human activities. Man is the central theme of all such studies. Thus political science falls within the family of social science. All these having the activities of man as their subject-matter, it is but natural that political science will have some relations and even points of identity with 6ther social sciences.
I. Political Science and Sociology:
While political science is the science of the state, sociology is the science of the society. Sociology makes a study of the progress of the society at different stages.
It notices the changes at every step and the reasons for such changes. It has a wide ambit of all the activities of man in spheres of the social life like political, economic, moral and cultural. It is for this reason that sociology is called the mother of all social sciences.
Thus political science is like a beggar before the doors of sociology. While sociology emphasises on the social aspect, political science underlines the political role of man. It is the function of sociology to explain why man is a political animal.
Thus, while sociology is all-comprehensive, political science is a part of sociology having political life as its exclusive field. Thus political science is a study of the state which is a social organisation with a political overtone.
Political science and sociology are not exclusive of each other. One has to depend upon the other. It is from the knowledge in sociology that the political scientist knows the origin of the state. Again, the sociologists have to derive from political science the activities of the state. As a matter of fact, any study of political science will be imperfect without knowing the sociological background.
Although political science and sociology have close affinity they differ also on several grounds.
First, political science is primarily concerned with the analysis of the phenomenon of the state and the mechanism by which the government puts its authority over the people. Sociology, on the other hand, focuses its attention on tracing its origin and development of customs, manners, behaviour and institutions of mankind with special emphasis on the remote past.
Secondly, political science concentrates its attention on a special group, i.e., the state. Sociology is a generalised study of all human relations, whereas political science is a specialised study of the political relations of human beings. So political science is narrower in scope than sociology.
Thirdly, sociology precedes political science in point of time. There was existence of sociology even before men had political consciousness or before men began an organised political life. This period prior to political science is adequately covered by sociology. Political science is born with the state and it will die with the state.
While sociology deals with the unconscious social activities of man, political science deals with the political consciousness of man. While political science starts with the assumption that man is a political animal, sociology goes far behind and explains how and why man became political-minded.
Finally, political science has some ideals and principles, to attain which it strives. It not only studies the state as it is but what it ought to be. But sociology has no such norms before it. It studies human behaviour as it was and as it is. It has nothing to do with what it should have been. Political science is also concerned with the task ahead, which is a distinguishing mark between political science and sociology.
II. Political Science and History:
Political science and history are inseparably connected. There are probably no two subjects more closely related than political science and history. In fact, it is almost impossible to effectively separate the two. Without its historical background, political science will look like a window without a house, whereas history without political science will look like a tree without fruits.
Sir John Seeley delineates the close affinity between these two subjects in his famous couplet: “History without political science has no fruit. Political science without history has no root.” The same scholar describes the relation between political science and history as: “History is past politics and politics is present history”.
History is an honest account of the past life of man by making a survey of political, economic, religious, intellectual and social developments. It aims at explaining the evolution and growth of several customs, traditions, arts and other human institutions by a survey of political, economic, religious, intellectual and social developments.
Thus it is in the laboratory of history that the principles of political science are fermented to fit in with the present conditions. With regard to the relation between political science and history, Lord John Acton maintained: “The science of politics is the one science that is deposited by the stream of history like the grains of gold in the sands of river.”
It cannot be gainsaid that political science depends for its material and data on history. History is the raw material and political science is the manufactured product. All the political institutions have a historical background. The study of political science is bound to become speculative but for the historical data. To quote the words of Sir John Seeley: “Politics are vulgar when not liberalised by history.”
For example, the creation of Pakistan would be imperfect if we do not have a knowledge of India’s freedom struggle. Thus it is history which elucidates political science. To fall back upon Sir John Seeley: “History fades into mere literature when it loses sight of political science”.
Although history and political science have close relations, there are some points of difference between the two.
First, the object of history is to narrate and interpret the event and facts in a chronological order and thereby to notice the changes in the political institutions. The function of political science is to use historical material to generalise the principles of political science.
It is mainly concerned with the selections, analysis and systematisation of the facts of history for the purpose of churning out the theories and philosophies of political science. It has got nothing to do with the various aspects of history like art and architecture, expeditions, war campaigns, etc. It studies history insofar as it deals with the political institutions.
Secondly, unlike history, political science has an ethical view as to what the state ought to be. For political science, historical data are valuable to understand the vexed problems of the best forms of government or issues of like nature.
Thirdly, political science is more philosophical than history. Political science deals with the ideal or philosophical matters. History is concerned with concrete matters.
Fourthly, the scope of political science is narrower than history. While history deals with all avenues of social life, political science is concerned mainly with the state and the government.
Finally, political science gives less importance to chronology and more importance to the similarities and dissimilarities of institutions, no matter to what point of time these institutions belong. Thus while studying the democratic institutions, a student of political science studies the modern democracy and how it differed from the democratic way of life in ancient Greece.
III. Political Science and Economics:
There is a close relation between political science and economics. It is for this reason that Aristotle devotes considerable portion of his book Politics to economics. Kautilya of India wrote his classical book the Arthasastra which means economics but deals with political science. Again, Adam Smith, the father of political economy, considered political economy as a branch of political science.
In his book Wealth of Nations he considered adequate income and subsistence for the people and sufficient revenue for the state for public services as the two major objects of political economy.
The subject-matter of political science is the state and political relations. But the field of economics is human activities in relation to consumption, production, distribution and exchange of wealth. Notwithstanding this difference, political science cannot deal with its subject-matter overlooking the economic consideration.
The founder of scientific socialism, Karl Marx believed that political institutions of a locality are based on the economic structure of that society, namely the forces of production and the production relations. Thus behind every economic system there is a corresponding political institution. So we find the political institutions of a communist government at variance with the political institutions of a democratic country.
The influence of economics upon political institution is not a one-way traffic. The economic activities of the state are regulated by the policy of the political institutions as well. Public finance is a subject which falls within both political science and economics.
Some fundamental problems of a state have their origins in economics. Many economic problems can be solved through political actions. Our conclusion is that economics and political science are two independent social sciences, though one is closely related to the other.
IV. Political Science and Ethics:
Political science and ethics are brought into close connection on the ground that the science of the state besides having social, historical and economic aspects, has also a moral side. Ethics is that branch of knowledge which deals with the rules of morality and the sets of the principles of right conduct.
This moral aspect of the state loomed so much large upon the earlier political scientists like Plato and Aristotle that they identified political science with morality. According to Plato, the state is an ideal for moral perfection. It is, therefore, no wonder that his book Republic is considered a book on ethics.
Aristode’s view is that good citizenship is possible only in a good state and that a bad state cannot produce good citizens. Both agreed on the point that political life of a man is a part of his ideal life which is the aim of all human sciences.
Although political science and ethics have a common ground in the sense that both aim at good conduct, there is a contrary opinion that political science is different from ethics. Thomas Hobbes and Niccolo Machiavelli are the champions of that school. They felt that political objectives are to be attained by any means, fair or foul. Machiavelli asked his prince to be not only strong like a lion but cunning like a fox also. In the modern age these two sciences are quite different, though the ultimate justification of the state is the highest good for all the citizens.
Thus the action that runs counter to morality must be condemned. According to Ivor Brown: “Ethical theory is incomplete without political theory, because man is an associate creature and cannot lead a full life in isolation. Political theory is idle without ethical theory, because its study and its result depend fundamentally on our scheme of moral values, our conceptions of right and wrong.” Thus, our conclusion is that ethics is an integral part of political science. It is well stated by Mahatma Gandhi: “Politics divorced from ethics is farce.”
V. Political Science and Psychology:
The connection between political science and psychology is a close one. It is said that psychology is a key to the understanding of political problems. While political science studies human behaviour as a political being, psychology studies man’s mental behaviour in social relationship. In a sense, all political institutions are ultimately the product of man’s psychology.
According to Ernest Barker: “The application of the psychological clue to the riddles of human activity has indeed become the fashion of the day. If our forefathers thought biologically, we think psychologically.” It was Auguste Comte who gave great importance to psychology as the basis of his theory.
As for Herbert Spencer, he relied on psychology almost as he did on biology. From the time of the experimental psychologist William Max Wundt, it became a fashion to present a psychological approach to individual and group behaviour.
The elements of psychology like instinct, habit, imitation, etc. were stamped into the study of political science. It is a psychological factor that capitalism is suitable to the USA, while communism had stood the order of the day for long in the erstwhile USSR. Similarly, the concept of the rule of law which obtains in England demonstrates the democratic nature of the people of England.
Thus the political institutions reflect the mental ideas of the citizen. So a knowledge of human psychology is a must for all practical politics. So a successful politician is one who knows the minds of the people which is called the “mental institutions of the race”.
It will never be proper to give all-importance to the psychological behaviour in political science. Political science has a moral aspect which is missing in psychology. The absence of ethics makes a sharp contrast between psychology and political science.
VI. Political Science and Statistics:
Political science is intimately concerned with statistics, which is a sort of mathematical study of certain problems. Thus we find that the state undertakes census of the population on the basis of statistics. As a matter of fact, all figure, works of the state-like birth and death, ethnic groups, linguistic groups and like matters are all available to the state through statistics.
It is, therefore, but natural that every government has a department of statistics. The relation between political science and statistics is one of a chemist and the chemical laboratory. Political scientist has to depend upon the conclusion supplied by statistics.
VII. Political Science and Jurisprudence:
Political science and jurisprudence are interconnected in a single chain. Political science is a social phenomenon which includes legal institutions. These legal institutions constitute jurisprudence, which is the science of law. While the state is politics personified, jurisprudence is justice personified. The second personification can sue and can be sued. It is for this reason that W. Y. Elliot defines the state as “a corporation composed of men domiciled upon a particular territory and endowed with original ruling power.”
Jurisprudence is a part of political science. Law is one of the subjects of the government. It is, therefore, in the fitness of things that jurisdiction comprising constitutional law and international law is a subdivision of political science. It is the constitutional law which defines the organs of the state, their relation to one another and the relation of the state and the individuals.
VIII. Political Science and Geography:
There is an intimate link between political science and geography. Geography moulds the national life. As a matter of fact, the political institutions of a country grow up on the basis of the geo-physical set-up of the country. Aristotle was the first to underline the bearing of geographical factors on the political institutions of a country.
According to Jean-Jacques Rousseau, the climatic environs shape the forms of government. His reading was that hot climate creates despotism, cold climate leads to barbarism and moderate climate is conducive to good government. In the opinion of Charles-Louis Montesquieu, the hilly regions and cold climate create slavery and despotism.
Thomas Buckle had the firm conviction that the geographical and physical conditions are responsible for the character and institutions of the state.
The accent of his emphasis is on climate, food and soil of the region. He had no doubt that the mountainous and land-locked nature of Switzerland was responsible for the birth of direct democracy in the cantons of Switzerland.
The impact of geography upon political science must not blind us. No doubt, geography plays an important role on the political condition of the state. But science and technology today have attained such a height that climate can be put under control by man by employing artificial rain, air-conditioning and refrigeration.
IX. Political Science and Ethnology:
Knowledge of ethnology, which deals with the racial behaviour of various people, has some utility for the students of political science to know the racial groups of nationalities in a state. This knowledge is necessary to demarcate the boundaries of federal set-up of the state. It is a fact that all the federal republics of the erstwhile USSR were set-up on ethnological consideration.
In India, it did not work in the same way. In India, language rather than ethnology is the guiding factor in the creation of the states and union territories. Anyway, political science has within its purview ethnology.
X. Political Science and Anthropology:
Political science embraces anthropology, which is concerned with the customs and institution of the primitive society. It is anthropology which throws a new light on some human institutions like marriage and family, which developed into the state. Thus there is good use of anthropology for political science in tracing the group life and organisation.
XI. Political Science and Biology:
It is not that political science is connected with social sciences alone. It is also related to natural science, like biology. In his organic theory of state, Sir Herbert Spencer considered the state as a living organism. He went to the extent of comparing the railways to the arteries, the telegraph wires to the veins and money to blood corpuscles.
He drew parallelism between agriculture and industries to the sustaining system of the organism. He drew similarity between the government and the regulatory system.
Then came Thomas Hobbes to compare the state with a huge giant called the Leviathan. According to Jean-Jacques Rousseau, both the state and the human organism have the motive power of force and will. As for J. K. Bluntschli, he even found life in the state. But all these suggestions are rather theoretical. There is in effect no relation between political science and biology.