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Political Science Definition

The classic definition of political science, a subfield of the social sciences, is the study of the state and its many institutions. This section uses a systematic approach to research governance using scientific analytical techniques.

But in the modern world, political science covers a lot more ground. The study of cultural, sociological, and psychological variables that have been discovered to have a mutual influence on the political system and the operation of the government is now included in this field of research.

Political Science Definition

Compared to Other Social Sciences

Political science is distinct from the other social sciences since it focuses primarily on power. Power is any political factor with greater control over other political variables, whether at an organization's regional, national, or even international levels.

One must be aware that these two subjects are quite different and are frequently mistaken with political philosophy, which focuses primarily on political principles and ideas like freedom, justice, rights, and political responsibility.

Political science, on the other hand, examines institutions and behavior. It has a stronger preference for conducting analytical research utilizing empirical methods and expressing observations as quantitatively as feasible to develop theories and make conclusions. Political philosophy takes a normative approach, whereas political science takes a more descriptive one.

Political Science Fields

Because political science is a broad subject in and of itself, it has been divided into several topics to enable a more scientific research method. Among the many areas of political science are:

Political Theory

Political theory is described as a "theory that incorporates the investigation of concepts and values connected to the state, individuals, group, and power, as well as the relationships between all of these components" (source).

Political theory studies how politics function compared to how it should function in an ideal world. Political theory can be divided into two main categories: normative political theory and empirical political theory.

The normative political theory examines how the world and government ought to function. This brand of political thought is more grounded in ethics and philosophy. On the other side, empirical political theory investigates the current state of government.

  • Political Norms Theory

Examining how the norms of a particular thing related to its idealized form are the concept of normative. The societal standards of government are distinctly defined through normative analysis. The main goal of normative political theory is to determine how citizens' cultural, social, and community beliefs view the ideal form of government and impact political phenomena.

Values and ideals are the primary components of normative political theory. Additionally, it contrasts the existing system of government with the idealized system and looks at ways to improve it.

"Non-state governance" refers to privatized institutions that enter the political arena. They consist of non-profits, for-profit companies, and volunteer groups. Several political thinkers contend that non-governmental organizations could perform some governmental duties more effectively.

An Example of Norms Theory

The normative approach to political philosophy is well-illustrated. Analyzing the cultural and social norms that impacted the formation of the present Afghan government, led by a coalition of Taliban warlords, would illustrate the normative political theory. Analysis of the nation's predominant religious and cultural traditions and customs would be necessary.

The downfall of a once-powerful centralized government in this nation would be examined by a typical political analysis of Islam's key characteristics, such as religious xenophobia, rejection of leadership styles, views towards women, and a lack of trust in political figures.

  • Empirical Political Theory

Empirical research is an investigation carried out using rational analysis. In other words, researchers who employ empirical techniques develop a hypothesis and test it using predetermined procedures. Analysis and comparison of the outcomes of government activities are made with the predictions made by observers. Observing the current form of governance is the foundation of empirical political theory.

The following steps make up the empirical process:

  • Developing a hypothesis
  • A comparison of the findings with the premise
  • Recommendations for ways to make the situation better as it is now

In essence, the empirical political theory's primary concern is how the government functions, regardless of the populace's interests. It focuses on the government's priorities for protecting the interests of the general public and looking out for its citizens. This view of government excludes the values and preferences of the people themselves.

Empirical Theory Example

Examining the methods and procedures the Afghanistan Islamic Republic uses in appointing government officials illustrates the empirical approach to political theory. This would entail compiling data on government appointees, the average tenure in these positions, and the functions of these government offices.

Domestic policy

Domestic policy is a subset of public policy regulating administrative choices direct affecting all problems and activity within a state's borders. It is distinct from foreign policy, which is how a government furthers its objectives in international affairs. The domestic policy encompasses various topics, such as commerce, education, energy, healthcare, law, money and taxes, the environment, social welfare, and individual liberties and rights.

Cultural Policy

The cultural policy covers a government's or its citizens' artistic and creative pursuits. A state's cultural policy aims to "channel both aesthetic creation and collective ways of life" through a formal administrative procedure.

The cultural policy defines several of the core tenets of a nation's existence, including the national language. These regulations help define ethical conduct, inspire civic responsibility, and help shape national identity.

A ministry of culture that is responsible for regulating national cultural policy can be found in many nations. The cultural policy regulates the following policy areas:

  • Planning for museums
  • Language policies
  • Sports policies
  • Arts policies

Economic Policy

The economy and treasury of a nation are affected by economic policy. The economic policy affects many policy sectors, including regulation, monetary systems, corporate law, public works, competition law, income policy, food policy, energy policy, and natural resource management.

Fiscal policy controls how the state raises money and makes financial decisions, whereas monetary policy controls the availability of money and interest rates in a state. Most developed countries have a central bank that oversees monetary policy in a manner that is only somewhat dependent on political players.

Social Policy

Social policy is concerned with societal difficulties and how to address them. Social policy affects the following areas of public policy:

Civil and political rights, drug policy, health policy, housing policy, and public safety.

International Relations

International relations seeks to explain the interactions of nations in the world's interstate system and the interactions of others whose activities are directed at people from other countries but begin within the same nation.

In a nutshell, the study of international relations tries to understand how people behave when they cross national lines, the larger relationships that these people are a part of, and the institutions (private, state, non-profit, and intergovernmental) that regulate those interactions.

Public Laws

Government agencies, including the federal and municipal governments, must abide by the law. "public law" refers to laws that control how public entities behave. Public law should ensure that government agencies behave ethically, sensibly, fairly, and in a way that respects the rights of individuals they may be affecting.

There are numerous options for persons impacted to contest an illegal action or decision made by a public entity. They consist of the following:

  • Making a complaint through the Ombudsmen or the complaints process for public bodies.
  • Requesting a public body to reconsider its judgment by exercising rights of appeal to a tribunal (where such rights exist regarding the specific decision to be challenged, such as in welfare benefits cases).

A crucial component of the UK's constitutional arrangement is judicial review. It does a crucial duty by enabling the judiciary and courts to oversee the government. A judge or judges will determine if a public entity has acted legally through a process or court case.

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