A HANDY LIST OF DEFINITIONS (EXCEPT NOT REALLY)
is the making of decisions by public means (Deutsch), possibly by some members of a collective for the rest
of the group (Shively). However, it can be taken to mean any relationship of power; it does not necessarily have to be
public. For instance, the interactions within the hierarchal structure of a company might be considered office politics.
is the study of these relationships of power. As a social science, it cannot be divorced from the other
subjects in this category. Instead, built as it is on the premise that explanations can be found, it draws on the other
subjects to help explain political phenomena. Marx, for instance, drew heavily from Economics in his criticism of
There exists three schools of thought in political science:
school holds that political thought, constitutional law, and institutions gives rise to an
understanding of public affairs. This offers normative descriptions of politics. One instance would be an
analysis how Locke's political philosophy has influenced the American constitution. Its critics claim this is
too static, and does not provide sufficient explanations concerning the principles underlying political
school is not enamoured of the staticky traditionalists, but prefer to employ empirical
methods in understanding and explaining political behaviour; this scientific approach is the only worthwhile
one. Such a positivist analysis might involve investigating, for instance, if humans are inclined to interpret a
law in a specific way. Behaviouralists been criticised as valuing method over subject matter, resulting in
research that is too narrowly-focused.
Perhaps – much like its subject of study – the tools used in political science should be multi-faceted.
, neither the traditional nor behavioural school of thought can be dismissed. While
this avoids pitting them, there is no consensus on how emphasis should be apportioned between the two
Political science can also be categorised into the following four fields:
is concerned with the political structure and arrangement of nations, not necessarily
with actual comparison of differing structures. For example, Aristotle studied the constitutions of various
Greek city-states, later making distinctions between the different forms of government.
involves more philosophical, normative theories of politics. In Republic, for instance, Plato
offered his vision of a political system. Debate about methodology in political science might also be
classified under political theory.