Post-Behavioural Revolution: It’s Nature!
The longevity of behaviouralism was just of two decades. After the Second World War it surfaced in the American continent and one of its exponents was David Easton. Towards the close of the sixties another revolutionary thought engulfed political science and it was (as captioned by Easton) post-behavioural revolution. It would be a misconception to regard post-behavioural revolution as quite different from behaviouralism; rather, post-behavioural revolution can aptly be said as a continuation.
Easton and other exponents of behaviouralism were of the view that the situation had arisen to revise the behaviouralism to meet the challenges that arose in the sixties. Easton and some of his followers were convinced that time had arisen to revise some of the basic tenets of behaviouralism. If behaviouralism is a revolution, post-behaviouralism is also a revolution because ideas contained in this new concept carried with it revolutionary views.
Easton believed that in the thirties and forties the prevailing situation inspired him and some others to propound a doctrine which is called behaviouralism. Similarly, from the S. W. W. right up to the end of sixties new situation arose which could not be tackled by behaviouralism. Hence, there arose the need for a new ideology and this was post-behavioural revolution.
It has aptly been observed by Easton that if behaviouralism could be regarded as the product of dissatisfaction with traditional research, post-behaviouralism was itself a sign of mounting discontent with important aspects of the behavioural revolution. The purpose of post-behavioural revolution was to improve the acceptability and reliability of political understanding and explanation about the prevailing situation.
The post-behavioural revolution went out in search of new methods and techniques which would be able to explain the new problems and situation and make recommendations. The transition from behaviouralism to post- behaviouralism was not merely an eyewash or a showcase. The very subject matter of post-behaviouralism underwent remarkable changes as well as the methods of analysis.
Easton writes: “many post behaviouralists are turning from the problematic of methods to unsetting questions about the subject matter of research and from the quest for explanation to doubts about the uses of political knowledge. Priorities for research are being reassessed without behavioural objectives necessarily being abandoned”.
David Easton has said that political science is a subject which is enriched by continuous research and behaviouralism is a sub-subject in that continuous process. Again, post-behaviouralism is again a state of that continuity. It is linked with the earlier stage. Easton calls both behaviouralism and post-behavioural revolution as profoundly connected with each other. It is an evolutionary discipline. Post-behavioural revolution only denotes a “change in emphasis”. But Easton avoids what would be the exact degree of emphasis.
Factors Contributing to Emergence:
1. Several factors have contributed to the emergence of post-behaviouralism and one such factor is the change in interest of behaviouralists. Easton, in his article has said that, like the behaviouralists, the post-behaviouralists also took active interests in voting behaviour of individuals, formation of political opinion, activities of legislature and judiciary etc. But the range of interests expanded several times in the late 1960s and early 1970s.
In the sixties and seventies new problems and issues arose in the U.S.A and in other parts of the globe. The outside issues created clear impact upon politics and economics of the USA. The behaviouralists could not keep themselves away from all these problems and issues and they began to respond academically to all these which resulted in the emergence of a new doctrine known as post- behaviouralism.
Some of the issues are the emergence of Cold War and its collapse, the rise of turbulent situation in the USA in the wake of Vietnam War, the breakup of former Soviet Union and the formation of a dozen independent republics in its place, premature collapse of communism in Soviet Union and eastern European states, revolt of the black people against the whites, emergence of femininism, rapprochement between USA and Russia. All these political—and to some extent non- political—issues stirred American internal political condition.
2. The intellect and academic interests of a large number of political scientists were inspired by the new conditions and many of them were determined to face the situation. Sub-group and caucus were formed. From the history of the development of behaviouralism we came to know that American Political Science Association (APSA) took the leading part in propagating the doctrine of behaviouralism.
In changed circumstances a sizeable section of the APSA readers and organisers fought vigorously to accommodate themselves to the new situation and they ardently desired to revise behaviouralism. This group formed a caucus. The caucus clearly announced that the purpose of political science would be to take steps for the alleviation of poverty and oppression, improvement of the living condition of common people and help the under-privileged and not to propagate doctrine or to indoctrinate general public.
The behaviouralism failed to achieve this objective and neobehaviouralists turned their attention to the above-noted objective. Not only the caucus, a large number of political scientists believed that political science must have noble objectives without which it cannot survive and flourish at all.
3. In the first few decades of the twentieth century Marxism made a strident appeal to a sizeable section of intellectual community and this created a panic in the minds of many Americans. They were in search of an alternative doctrine which could successfully combat Marxism.
The most opportune moment appeared with the onset of demise, or temporary collapse of Marxism in erstwhile Soviet Union and some other countries. Behaviouralism, along with other liberal political doctrines, were vigorously advocated and that favourable atmosphere provided potentialities for the blossoming of behaviouralism which came to be known as -post-behaviouralism.
Easton observes: “With the dissolution of the USSR and the collapse of socialism in Eastern Europe, the viability of Marxism as a philosophy and analytic approach has come into more serious question than ever before”.
4. Though Marx and Engels throughout their life stridently advocated for the withering away of state the implementation of Marxism in Russia taught us a different lesson. In Russia and some other socialist states the state became so powerful that individuals and various organisations were forced to be perpetrated at the altar of the state. The behaviouralists of the seventies strongly felt the need to change it.
There must exist a state but not in the Marxian sense. The state is a useful actor, but the individuals must have precedence over it. The importance of the state declined. The post-behaviouralists were not also content with the term “state”. Several new terms were circulated and some of them are political system, interest articulation, interest aggregation, elitism etc. “The result is that post-behaviouralism differs from behavioural stage in its general tone”.
5. In the 1970s democracy, in the USA, came to be viewed with a new outlook. The behaviouralists started their analysis about voters’ behaviour and people’s interest on the issues about which decisions have been taken. But some political scientists began to analyse democracy in a new way and it is not enough to discuss the issues about which decisions have been taken.
But there are numerous issues on which no decisions have been taken. Even the executive organ of the government has not taken them seriously. A good and future oriented democracy badly needs the comprehension of all of them into its fold. There are many problems and issues which remain outside the purview of authority. The behaviouralists of the 1970s were not apathetic to them.
For future development of society and solution of peoples problems all of them should be properly dealt with. This approach changed the whole panorama of democracy, society and the outlook of political scientists. Docks were cleared for the arrival of a new political doctrine and it is post-behaviouralism.
6. Counter-cultural movement can be designated as another cause of the rise of post-behaviouralism. Counter-cultural movement found an important place in political science and this sizeably changed the mood of many. “In one sense” says Easton, “the counter-cultural movement achieved many of its goals. It brought about fundamental reorientations in worldwide perceptions of important issues. Environmental pollution, poverty, sexual equality, feminist perspectives, freedom in forms of personal dress and appearance, the new so called style or non-material issues came to the political fore-ground”.
The issues were popular and very catchy. Many top ranking political scientists could not overlook the importance of all these issues. They wanted to include them into their analyses and in this way post- behaviouralism earned the status of reality. In summary form, the post-behaviouralism can reasonably be called a consequence of the various burning issues that tormented the mind and actions of people.
7. The concepts like values, justice, equality, freedom earned new meaning and importance in the seventies. Adherence to the old dogmas (propounded by behaviouralism) could not serve any fruitful purpose. Serious political scientists must devote their energy and intellect to these time-old concepts and their fructification. The political scientists cannot ignore their responsibility. Values and value judgment, justice, idealism may not constitute the core of behaviouralism but their disregard may create problems for the acceptability for a well defined theory.
The post-behaviouralists realised from experience that new political concepts or revision of any political idea must embrace values, ideas and justice. In this way post- behaviouralism, keeping the tradition of behaviouralism, augured a new age and tradition. At least David Easton believed in that line. He has said that for a future-oriented society post-behaviouralism is most suitable. Post-behaviouralism can be called a marriage between basic concepts of behaviouralism based on empiricism and idealism, values and justice.
Nature of Post-Behavioural Revolution:
David Easton has enumerated some basic features of post-behaviouralism. In the first place, according to Easton, as behaviouralism was the outcome of dissatisfaction against traditionalism, post-behaviouralism also denotes “deep dissatisfaction with political research and teaching”.
Post-behaviouralism strives to convert political science into a rigorous scientific discipline. It must be based on solid foundation so that it can cope with the emergent issues that were plaguing American society. While behaviouralism heavily emphasised the methods and techniques and neglected many burning questions of the present-day society.
In the second place, post-behavioural revolution chalks out a scheme for the ‘ future and in that sense it is future-oriented. The chief objective of this approach is to provide a new direction for political science. What the subject wants to do in the coming years post-behaviouralism wants to emphasise that.
It has no intention to go back to an imaginary golden age of political science and research. Dealing with post- behaviouralism as a revolution Easton makes the following observation: “Post- behaviouralism seeks to propel political science in new directions…. This new development is then a genuine revolution, not a reaction, a becoming, not a preservation, a reform and not a counter-reformation”. So we find that post-behaviouralism never makes any attempt to look backwards, it is not willing to remain satisfied with what has happened. Its motto is to go ahead.”
Thirdly, post-behaviouralism is both a movement and an intellectual tendency. We have already noted that post-behaviouralism is future-oriented; it has an ambition and wants to lead political science to a particular direction. In order to achieve this ambitious goal, post-behaviouralism must be converted into a movement. Here the word movement is a misnomer.
Movement does not mean agitation made by some political parties or groups. Continuous and serious efforts are to be made for the realisation of goals. Again, according to Easton, it is an intellectual tendency. Research methods, adopted by post-behaviouralists include rigorous scientific and statistical methods.
The appeal of post-behaviouralists is not to those persons who are disinterested in the subject or those who are the common people. Its appeal is to young graduated political scientists or old members of the profession. Ordinary people may not be interested in what we call post-behaviouralism or behaviouralism.
Even the members of other professions are not supposed to take interest in post- behaviouralism. Easton has further claimed that post-behaviouralism is a genuine revolution and not a reaction. It does not deny the importance of traditionalism or past heritage. It respectfully recollects the past, the contribution of past political scientists. It chiefly wants to say that society is undergoing constant changes and a suitable political research must comprehend them.
Credo of Relevance:
David Easton has already enumerated eight characteristics of behaviouralism and we have earlier explained them. Now, being impelled by new circumstances, he has shifted his attention from behaviouralism to post-behaviouralism and here he wants to convince us that this new concept carries with it sufficient amount of relevance which he calls credo of relevance. Credo means a statement of a person’s beliefs.
Why does he believe in post-behaviouralism has been clarified:
1. According to Easton, the first credo is substance must be given priority over technique. There is immense utility and importance of sophisticated techniques shall be allowed to overshadow the substance or purpose of political science. That is why Easton has said, “Substance must precede technique”.
The importance and relevance of this credo has been stated by Easton in the following words: “For the aphorism of science that it is better to be wrong than vague, post-behaviouralism would substitute a new dictum that it is better to be vague than non-relevantly precise”.
2. Earlier behaviouralism was criticised on the ground that it aims at maintaining the status quo of the existing structure of society. But post-behaviouralism has turned away its attention from this perception. This new doctrine has no intention to proceed empirically to protect the conservativeness.
The purpose of post-behaviouralism is to accelerate the social change. Of course post-behaviouralism here will apply improved scientific methods. “To confine oneself exclusively to the description and analysis of facts in their broadest context. As a result empirical political science must lend its support to the maintenance of the very factual conditions it explores. It unwittingly purveys an ideology of social conservatism tempered by modest incremental change”.
3. Easton admits that behaviouralism committed a blunder by not giving any recognition to the brute realities of society. The result was that both the approach and conclusion of behaviouralism was characterised by unreality. Post-behaviouralism wants to rectify this blunder by giving proper recognition to the real situation which Easton calls “Brute reality”. “The task of post-behaviouralism is to break the barriers of silence that behavioural language necessarily has created and to help political science reach out to the real needs of mankind in a time of crisis”.
4. Behaviouralism paid excessive emphasis on scientific methods and value-free analysis and this resulted in a biased view of political science. But for a proper and balanced analysis it is essential that both empirical and scientific research as well as value added analysis shall be combined together. Behaviouralists made a grave injustice to political science by keeping a way value judgment from its purview. Post- behaviouralism does not wish to repeat it.
5. Dealing with the credo of relevance Easton has placed before us an explosive issue—the exact role of the intellectuals. The duty of the intellectuals is to formulate principles and build up fabric of an academic disciple and while doing so they must “protect the human values of civilisation”. The failure to achieve this coveted goal will bring them at par with the technician and mechanics. But intellectuals and technicians are not of the same category. To protect the value of civilisation is the unique task and obligation of the intellectuals.
If the intellectuals fail to do this task there will occur gross dereliction of duty on their part. The primary obligation of an intellectual to the society is to protect the values of civilisation and to find out the ways which will meet the basic needs of the people. Thus the responsibility of an intellectual is immense. Intellectual must enjoy sufficient freedom of inquiry and that shall be employed for social change and development.
6. Easton reminds the intellectuals of another big responsibility. It is the duty of the intellectuals to know and study the problems. Then his next step shall be to find out the ways for the solution of the problems. Thirdly, to be involved into action. Action should be chanellised for changing society.
Easton observes, “To know is to bear the responsibility for acting and to act is to engage in reshaping society.” Easton views intellectuals from separate standpoint. Intellectuals are scientists and the task of the scientists is to recommend the scientific ways of social change. Therefore the intellectuals must study the social issues and problems in the proper perspective with a scientific outlook. The slogan of the post-behaviouralism is action science—an action must be based on science or scientific methods.
7. Finally, Easton has drawn our attention to another important aspect of post- behaviouralism. If it is the duty of the intellectuals to implement the knowledge they have gathered; then the institutions with which they are associated are also parts of the implementation of policy. In other words, Easton wants to emphasise that the intellectuals, scientists and all the institutions disseminating academic principles are all directly involved in the gigantic task of social upliftment.
Easton concludes that if so “Politicisation of the professions is inescapable as well as desirable”. The post-behaviouralists, scientists, the intellectuals all are actors of the social change. Also the state or political system is part of the process. He is of opinion that all the post- behaviouralists may not agree with all the credo of relevance. But the doctrine of post- behavioural revolution appears to embrace the above-noted crucial features of post- behaviouralism. “As such the credo brings out most of the salient features of post- behavioural revolution as it appears to be taking shape today”.