Political science is a social science which deals with systems of governance, and the analysis of political activities, political thoughts, and political behavior. It deals extensively with the theory and practice of politics which is commonly thought of as determining of the distribution of power and resources. Political scientists "see themselves engaged in revealing the relationships underlying political events and conditions, and from these revelations they attempt to construct general principles about the way the world of politics works."
Political science—occasionally called politicology—comprises numerous subfields, including comparative politics, political economy, international relations, political theory, public administration, public policy, and political methodology. Furthermore, political science is related to, and draws upon, the fields of economics, law, sociology, history, philosophy, geography, psychology/psychiatry, and anthropology.
Comparative politics is the science of comparison and teaching of different types of constitutions, political actors, legislature and associated fields, all of them from an intrastate perspective. International relations deals with the interaction between nation-states as well as intergovernmental and transnational organizations. Political theory is more concerned with contributions of various classical and contemporary thinkers and philosophers.
Political science is methodologically diverse and appropriates many methods originating in social research. Approaches include positivism, interpretivism, rational choice theory, behaviouralism, structuralism, post-structuralism, realism, institutionalism, and pluralism. Political science, as one of the social sciences, uses methods and techniques that relate to the kinds of inquiries sought: primary sources such as historical documents and official records, secondary sources such as scholarly journal articles, survey research, statistical analysis, case studies, experimental research, and model building.
Political scientists study matters concerning the allocation and transfer of power in decision making, the roles and systems of governance including governments and international organizations, political behaviour and public policies. They measure the success of governance and specific policies by examining many factors, including stability, justice, material wealth, peace and public health. Some political scientists seek to advance positive (attempt to describe how things are, as opposed to how they should be) theses by analysing politics. Others advance normative theses, by making specific policy recommendations.
Political scientists provide the frameworks from which journalists, special interest groups, politicians, and the electorate analyse issues. According to Chaturvedy,
Political scientists may serve as advisers to specific politicians, or even run for office as politicians themselves. Political scientists can be found working in governments, in political parties or as civil servants. They may be involved with non-governmental organizations (NGOs) or political movements. In a variety of capacities, people educated and trained in political science can add value and expertise to corporations. Private enterprises such as think tanks, research institutes, polling and public relations firms often employ political scientists.
In the United States, political scientists known as "Americanists" look at a variety of data including constitutional development, elections, public opinion, and public policy such as Social Security reform, foreign policy, US Congressional committees, and the US Supreme Court — to name only a few issues.
Because political science is essentially a study of human behaviour, in all aspects of politics, observations in controlled environments are often challenging to reproduce or duplicate, though experimental methods are increasingly common (see experimental political science). Citing this difficulty, former American Political Science Association President Lawrence Lowell once said "We are limited by the impossibility of experiment. Politics is an observational, not an experimental science." Because of this, political scientists have historically observed political elites, institutions, and individual or group behaviour in order to identify patterns, draw generalizations, and build theories of politics.
Like all social sciences, political science faces the difficulty of observing human actors that can only be partially observed and who have the capacity for making conscious choices unlike other subjects such as non-human organisms in biology or inanimate objects as in physics. Despite the complexities, contemporary political science has progressed by adopting a variety of methods and theoretical approaches to understanding politics and methodological pluralism is a defining feature of contemporary political science.
The advent of political science as a university discipline was marked by the creation of university departments and chairs with the title of political science arising in the late 19th century. In fact, the designation "political scientist" is typically for those with a doctorate in the field, but can also apply to those with a master's in the subject. Integrating political studies of the past into a unified discipline is ongoing, and the history of political science has provided a rich field for the growth of both normative and positive political science, with each part of the discipline sharing some historical predecessors. The American Political Science Association and the American Political Science Review were founded in 1903 and 1906, respectively, in an effort to distinguish the study of politics from economics and other social phenomena.
In the 1950s and the 1960s, a behavioural revolution stressing the systematic and rigorously scientific study of individual and group behaviour swept the discipline. A focus on studying political behaviour, rather than institutions or interpretation of legal texts, characterized early behavioural political science, including work by Robert Dahl, Philip Converse, and in the collaboration between sociologist Paul Lazarsfeld and public opinion scholar Bernard Berelson.
The late 1960s and early 1970s witnessed a take off in the use of deductive, game theoretic formal modelling techniques aimed at generating a more analytical corpus of knowledge in the discipline. This period saw a surge of research that borrowed theory and methods from economics to study political institutions, such as the United States Congress, as well as political behaviour, such as voting. William H. Riker and his colleagues and students at the University of Rochester were the main proponents of this shift.
Despite considerable research progress in the discipline based on all the kinds of scholarship discussed above, it has been observed that progress toward systematic theory has been modest and uneven.
The theory of political transitions, and the methods of their analysis and anticipating of crises, form an important part of political science. Several general indicators of crises and methods were proposed for anticipating critical transitions. Among them, a statistical indicator of crisis, simultaneous increase of variance and correlations in large groups, was proposed for crises anticipation and successfully used in various areas. Its applicability for early diagnosis of political crises was demonstrated by the analysis of the prolonged stress period preceding the 2014 Ukrainian economic and political crisis. There was a simultaneous increase in the total correlation between the 19 major public fears in the Ukrainian society (by about 64%) and also in their statistical dispersion (by 29%) during the pre-crisis years. A feature shared by certain major revolutions is that they were not predicted. The theory of apparent inevitability of crises and revolutions was also developed.
In the Soviet Union, political studies were carried out under the guise of some other disciplines like theory of state and law, area studies, international relations, studies of labor movement, "critique of bourgeois theories", etc. Soviet scholars were represented at the International Political Science Association (IPSA) since 1955 (since 1960 by the Soviet Association of Political and State Studies).
In 1979, the 11th World Congress of IPSA took place in Moscow. Until the late years of the Soviet Union, political science as a field was subjected to tight control of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union and was thus subjected to distrust. Anti-communists accused political scientists of being "false" scientists and of having served the old regime.
After the fall of the Soviet Union, two of the major institutions dealing with political science, the Institute of Contemporary Social Theories and the Institute of International Affairs, were disbanded, and most of their members were left without jobs. These institutes were victims of the first wave of anticommunist opinion and ideological attacks. Today, the Russian Political Science Association unites professional political scientists from all around Russia.
In 2000, the Perestroika Movement in political science was introduced as a reaction against what supporters of the movement called the mathematicization of political science. Those who identified with the movement argued for a plurality of methodologies and approaches in political science and for more relevance of the discipline to those outside of it.
Some evolutionary psychology theories argue that humans have evolved a highly developed set of psychological mechanisms for dealing with politics. However, these mechanisms evolved for dealing with the small group politics that characterized the ancestral environment and not the much larger political structures in today's world. This is argued to explain many important features and systematic cognitive biases of current politics.
Political science, possibly like the social sciences as a whole, "as a discipline lives on the fault line between the 'two cultures' in the academy, the sciences and the humanities." Thus, in some American colleges where there is no separate School or College of Arts and Sciences per se, political science may be a separate department housed as part of a division or school of Humanities or Liberal Arts. Whereas classical political philosophy is primarily defined by a concern for Hellenic and Enlightenment thought, political scientists are also marked by a great concern for "modernity" and the contemporary nation state, along with the study of classical thought, and as such share a greater deal of terminology with sociologists (e.g. structure and agency).
Most United States colleges and universities offer B.A. programs in political science. M.A. or M.A.T. and Ph.D. or Ed.D. programs are common at larger universities. The term political science is more popular in North America than elsewhere; other institutions, especially those outside the United States, see political science as part of a broader discipline of political studies, politics, or government. While political science implies use of the scientific method, political studies implies a broader approach, although the naming of degree courses does not necessarily reflect their content.Template:Even Separate degree granting programs in international relations and public policy are not uncommon at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. Master's level programs in political science are common when political scientists engage in public administration.
The national honor society for college and university students of government and politics in the United States is Pi Sigma Alpha.
Most political scientists work broadly in one or more of the following five areas:
Some political science departments also classify methodology as well as scholarship on the domestic politics of a particular country as distinct fields. In the United States, American politics is often treated as a separate subfield.
In contrast to this traditional classification, some academic departments organize scholarship into thematic categories, including political philosophy, political behaviour (including public opinion, collective action, and identity), and political institutions (including legislatures and international organizations). Political science conferences and journals often emphasize scholarship in more specific categories. The American Political Science Association, for example, has 42 organized sections that address various methods and topics of political inquiry.
As a social science, contemporary political science started to take shape in the latter half of the 19th century. At that time it began to separate itself from political philosophy, which traces its roots back to the works of Aristotle, and Plato which were written nearly 2,500 years ago. The term "political science" was not always distinguished from political philosophy, and the modern discipline has a clear set of antecedents including also moral philosophy, political economy, political theology, history, and other fields concerned with normative determinations of what ought to be and with deducing the characteristics and functions of the ideal state.
…although one might allege the same for social science as a whole, political scientists receive funding from and play an active role in both the National Science Foundation and the National Endowment for the Humanities [in the United States].
…existing practices at Harvard University, the University of California at Berkeley, and the University of Michigan.
The American Political Science Association (APSA) is a professional association of political science students and scholars in the United States. Founded in 1903, it publishes four academic journals (American Political Science Review, Perspectives on Politics, Journal of Political Science Education, PS: Political Science & Politics). APSA Organized Sections publish or are associated with 15 additional journals.
APSA presidents serve one-year terms. The current president is Rogers Smith of the University of Pennsylvania. Woodrow Wilson, who later became President of the United States, was APSA president in 1909. APSA has its headquarters at 1527 New Hampshire Avenue NW in Washington, D.C., in a historic building that was owned by Admiral George Remy, labor leader Samuel Gompers, the American War Mothers, and Harry Garfield, son of President James A. Garfield and president of the association from 1921 to 1922.APSA administers the Centennial Center for Political Science and Public Affairs, which offers fellowships, conference, research space, and grants for scholars, and administers Pi Sigma Alpha, the honor society for political science students. APSA also periodically sponsors seminars and other events for political scientists, policymakers, the media, and the general public.American Political Science Review
The American Political Science Review is a quarterly peer-reviewed academic journal covering all areas of political science. It is an official journal of the American Political Science Association and is published on their behalf by Cambridge University Press. The journal was established in 1906. The current editor-in-chief is Thomas König (University of Mannheim).Centralisation
Centralisation or centralization (see spelling differences) is the process by which the activities of an organization, particularly those regarding planning and decision-making, framing strategy and policies become concentrated within a particular geographical location group. This moves the important decision-making and planning powers within the center of the organisation.
The term has a variety of meanings in several fields. In political science, centralisation refers to the concentration of a government's power—both geographically and politically—into a centralised government.Comparative politics
Comparative politics is a field in political science, characterized by an empirical approach based on the comparative method. In other words, comparative politics is the study of the domestic politics, political institutions, and conflicts of countries. It often involves comparisons among countries and through time within single countries, emphasizing key patterns of similarity and difference. Arend Lijphart argues that comparative politics does not have a substantive focus in itself, but rather a methodological one: it focuses on "the how but does not specify the what of the analysis." In other words, comparative politics is not defined by the object of its study, but rather by the method it applies to study political phenomena. Peter Mair and Richard Rose advance a slightly different definition, arguing that comparative politics is defined by a combination of a substantive focus on the study of countries' political systems and a method of identifying and explaining similarities and differences between these countries using common concepts. Rose states that, on his definition: "The focus is explicitly or implicitly upon more than one country, thus following familiar political science usage in excluding within-nation comparison. Methodologically, comparison is distinguished by its use of concepts that are applicable in more than one country."When applied to specific fields of study, comparative politics may be referred to by other names, such as for example comparative government (the comparative study of forms of government) or comparative foreign policy (comparing the foreign policies of different States in order to establish general empirical connections between the characteristics of the State and the characteristics of its foreign policy).
Sometimes, especially in the United States, the term "comparative politics" is used to refer to "the politics of foreign countries." This usage of the term, however, is often considered incorrect."Comparative political science" as a general term for an area of study, as opposed to a methodology of study, can be seen as redundant. The political only shows as political when either an overt or tacit comparison is being made. A study of a single political entity, whether a society, subculture or period, would show the political as simple brute reality without comparison with another society, subculture, or period.
The highest award in the discipline of Comparative Politics is the Karl Deutsch award, awarded by the International Political Science Association. So far, it has been given to Juan Linz (2003), Charles Tilly (2006), Giovanni Sartori (2009), and Alfred Stepan (2012).Elitism
Elitism is the belief or attitude that individuals who form an elite—a select group of people with a certain ancestry, intrinsic quality, high intellect, wealth, special skills, or experience—are more likely to be constructive to society as a whole, and therefore deserve influence or authority greater than that of others.Alternatively, the term elitism may be used to describe a situation in which power is concentrated in the hands of a limited number of people. Oppositions of elitism include anti-elitism, egalitarianism, populism and political theory of pluralism.
Elite theory is the sociological or political science analysis of elite influence in society: elite theorists regard pluralism as a utopian ideal. Elitism is closely related to social class and what sociologists call social stratification, which in the Anglo Saxon tradition have long been anchored in the "blue blood" claims of hereditary nobility. Members of the upper classes are sometimes known as the social elite. The term elitism is also sometimes used to denote situations in which a group of people claiming to possess high abilities or simply an in-group or cadre grant themselves extra privileges at the expense of others. This form of elitism may be described as discrimination.Faculty (division)
A faculty is a division within a university or college comprising one subject area, or a number of related subject areas. In American usage such divisions are generally referred to as colleges (e.g., "college of arts and sciences") or schools (e.g., "school of business"), but may also mix terminology (e.g., Harvard University has a "faculty of arts and sciences" but a "law school").Faculty of Human, Social, and Political Science, University of Cambridge
The Faculty of Human, Social, and Political Science at the University of Cambridge was created in 2011 out of a merger of the Faculty of Archaeology and Anthropology and the Faculty of Politics, Psychology, Sociology and International Studies. According to the Cambridge HSPS website: graduates pursue careers in "research (both academic and policy research), the Civil Service (including the Foreign Office), journalism, management consultancy, museums, conservation and heritage management, national and international NGOs and development agencies, the Law, teaching, publishing, health management, and public relations."The Faculty houses 3 departments: Department of Archaeology and Anthropology, Department of Politics and International Studies and Department of Sociology. Each of these departments has a worldwide reputation for teaching and research, and the undergraduate curriculum (Tripos) is designed to serve both students who have a clear disciplinary commitment at the time of application as well as those who want a broader multidisciplinary degree. Students with a passion for politics can take advantage of links with such departments as Economics and History, those with interests in Sociology can draw on Anthropology and Geography, while those dedicated to pursuing an archaeology career can specialise from the first year or combine this with Biological and Social Anthropology.
Undergraduate students study several disciplines in their first year and then specialise in one or two disciplines in their second and third years. Clearly specified tracks (Archaeology, Biological Anthropology, Politics, Psychology, Social Anthropology, Sociology, or a combination of disciplines) ensure that students graduate with appropriate intellectual and professional skills. Assyriology and Egyptology are also possible specialisations, within the Archaeology track.
At the postgraduate level, there are established one-year M.Phils in Archaeology (including Assyriology and Egyptology), Biological Anthropology, International Studies, Social Anthropology and Sociology. The sociology M.Phil allows for specialisation in one of four areas: reproduction; political economy; marginality and exclusion; and media and culture. A new M.Phil in Politics was launched in 2008.
For further post graduate study, Ph.D students conduct research within a wide range of subjects within Archaeology, Assyriology, Egyptology, Biological and Social Anthropology, Politics & International Studies and Sociology.
The Faculty is currently spread across several sites. The SPS Library (now affiliated with the University Library) and the Department of Sociology are on Free School Lane at the New Museums Site. The Department of Politics & International Studies is currently located at the Alison Richard Building on the Sidgwick Site. The Department of Archaeology & Anthropology is spread across the Downing Site, New Museums Site, and Henry Wellcome Building.Independent voter
An independent voter, often also called an unaffiliated voter in the United States, is a voter who does not align themselves with a political party. An independent is variously defined as a voter who votes for candidates on issues rather than on the basis of a political ideology or partisanship; a voter who does not have long-standing loyalty to, or identification with, a political party; a voter who does not usually vote for the same political party from election to election; or a voter who self-describes as an independent.Voting systems outside of the United States, including the British parliamentary system, may include independent voters as being "floater voters" or swing votes.List of political scientists
This is a list of notable political scientists. See the list of political theorists for those who study political theory. See also political science.London School of Economics
The London School of Economics (officially The London School of Economics and Political Science, often referred to as LSE) is a public research university located in London, England, and a constituent college of the federal University of London. Founded in 1895 by Fabian Society members Sidney Webb, Beatrice Webb, Graham Wallas, and George Bernard Shaw for the betterment of society, LSE joined the University of London in 1900 and established its first degree courses under the auspices of the University in 1901. The LSE started awarding its own degrees in 2008, prior to which it awarded degrees of the University of London.
LSE is located in Westminster, central London, near the boundary between Covent Garden and Holborn. The area is historically known as Clare Market. The LSE has more than 11,000 students and 3,300 staff, just under half of whom come from outside the UK. It had an income of £354.3 million in 2017/18, of which £31.6 million was from research grants. One hundred and fifty-five nationalities are represented amongst LSE's student body and the school has the second highest percentage of international students (70%) of all world universities. Despite its name, the school is organised into 25 academic departments and institutes which conduct teaching and research across a range of legal studies and social sciences.LSE is a member of the Russell Group, Association of Commonwealth Universities, European University Association and is sometimes considered a part of the "Golden Triangle" of universities in south-east England. For the subject area of social science, LSE places second in the world in the QS Rankings, tenth in THE Rankings, and eighth in the Academic Ranking of World Universities. LSE is ranked among the top fifteen universities nationally by all three UK tables, while internationally LSE is ranked in the top 50 by two of the three major global rankings. In the 2014 Research Excellence Framework, the School had the highest proportion of world-leading research among research submitted of any British non-specialist university.LSE has produced many notable alumni in the fields of law, history, economics, philosophy, psychology, business, literature, media and politics. Alumni and staff include 53 past or present heads of state or government, 20 members of the current British House of Commons and 18 Nobel laureates. As of 2017, 26% (or 13 out of 49) of all the Nobel Prizes in Economics have been awarded or jointly awarded to LSE alumni, current staff or former staff, making up 16% (13 out of 79) of all laureates. LSE alumni and staff have also won 3 Nobel Peace Prizes and 2 Nobel Prizes in Literature. Out of all European universities, LSE has educated the most billionaires according to a 2014 global census of U.S dollar billionaires.Nonpartisanism
Nonpartisanism is a lack of affiliation with, and a lack of bias toward, a political party.While an Oxford English Dictionary definition of partisan includes adherents of a party, cause, person, etc., in most cases, nonpartisan refers specifically to political party connections rather than being the strict antonym of "partisan".Outline of political science
The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to politics and political science:
Politics – the exercise of power; process by which groups of people make collective decisions. Politics is the art or science of running governmental or state affairs (including behavior within civil governments), institutions, fields, and special interest groups such as the corporate, academic, and religious segments of society.
Political science – the field concerning the theory and practice of politics and the description and analysis of political systems and political behavior.Political compass
The political compass is a multi-axis political model used by the website of the same name to label or organise political thought on two dimensions. In its selection and representation of these two dimensions, it is similar to the Nolan Chart and Pournelle chart. The term 'political compass' is claimed as a trademark by the British website Pace News Limited, which uses responses to a set of 62 propositions to rate political ideology on two axes: economic (left–right) and social (authoritarian–libertarian). The site also includes an explanation of the two-axis system they use, a few charts which place various past and present political figures according to their estimation and reading lists for each of the main political orientations.Political science of religion
The political science of religion (also referred to as politicology of religion or politology of religion) is one of the youngest disciplines in the political sciences that deals with a study of influence that religion has on politics and vice versa with a focus on the relationship between the subjects (actors) in politics in the narrow sense: government, political parties, pressure groups, and religious communities. It was established in the last decades of the twentieth century.Public policy
Public policy is the principled guide to action taken by the administrative executive branches of the state with regard to a class of issues, in a manner consistent with law and institutional customs.Sciences Po
The Paris Institute of Political Studies (French: Institut d'Études Politiques de Paris, French pronunciation: [ɛ̃s.ti.ty de.tyd pɔ.li.tik də pa.ʁi]), commonly referred to as Sciences Po (French pronunciation: [sjɑ̃s po]), is the primary institution of higher learning for French political and administrative elite, and one of the most prestigious and selective European schools in the social sciences. It was founded in 1872 to promote a new class of French politicians in the aftermath of the French defeat in the Franco-Prussian War of 1871, and has since educated, among others, 32 heads of state or government, 7 of the past 8 French Presidents, 3 past heads of the International Monetary Fund, heads of international organizations (including the UN, UNESCO, WTO, IMF, EP and ECB), and 6 of sitting CAC 40 CEOs. The school is also the alma mater of numerous intellectual and cultural figures, such as Marcel Proust, René Rémond, Paul Claudel, and Raymond Aron.
In 2019, it was ranked as the world's 3rd best school for politics and international relations.Sciences Po undertook an ambitious reform agenda starting in the mid-1990s, which broadened its focus to prepare students for the private sector, put an emphasis on the internationalization of the school's curriculum and student body, and established a special admission process for underprivileged applicants. It also expanded outside Paris by establishing additional campuses in Dijon, Le Havre, Menton, Nancy, Poitiers, and Reims. The institution is a member of the Association of Professional Schools of International Affairs and the Global Public Policy Network.Seat of government
The seat of government is (as defined by Brewer's Politics) "the building, complex of buildings or the city from which a government exercises its authority".In most countries, the nation’s capital is also seat of its of government, thus that city is appropriately referred to as the national seat of government. The terms are not however, completely synonymous, as some countries' seat of government differs from the capital. The Netherlands, for example, has Amsterdam as its capital but The Hague is the seat of government; and the Philippines, with Manila as its capital but National Capital Region (NCR) is the seat of government.
Local and regional authorities usually have a seat, called an administrative centre, as well.Social engineering (political science)
Social engineering is a discipline in social science that refers to efforts to influence particular attitudes and social behaviors on a large scale, whether by governments, media or private groups in order to produce desired characteristics in a target population. Social engineering can also be understood philosophically as a deterministic phenomenon where the intentions and goals of the architects of the new social construct are realized.
Social engineers use the scientific method to analyze and understand social systems in order to design the appropriate methods to achieve the desired results in the human subjects.Voter turnout
Voter turnout is the percentage of eligible voters who cast a ballot in an election. Eligibility varies by country, and the voting-eligible population should not be confused with the total adult population. Age and citizenship status are often among the criteria used to determine eligibility, but some countries further restrict eligibility based on sex, race, or religion.
After increasing for many decades, there has been a trend of decreasing voter turnout in most established democracies since the 1980s. In general, low turnout is attributed to disillusionment, indifference, or a sense of futility (the perception that one's vote won't make any difference). According to Stanford University political scientists Adam Bonica and Michael McFaul, there is a consensus among political scientists that "democracies perform better when more people vote."Low turnout is usually considered to be undesirable. As a result, there have been many efforts to increase voter turnout and encourage participation in the political process. In spite of significant study into the issue, scholars are divided on the reasons for the decline. Its cause has been attributed to a wide array of economic, demographic, cultural, technological, and institutional factors.
Different countries have very different voter turnout rates. For example, turnout in the United States 2012 presidential election was about 55%. In both Belgium, which has obligatory attendance, and Malta, which does not, participation reaches about 95%. In Belgium there is obligatory attendance which is often misinterpreted as compulsory voting