Definition of Political Science

Political science is interpreted in different ways by different scholars in its long journey. So it is very difficult to get a very comprehensive and universally accepted definition.

There are some definition of political science which obviously focuses all their attention in the State. In their definition, the State is huge and the only object of study in political science. Such State oriented definition were offered mostly by several classical scholars like R.G. Gettell, J.R. Seeley, Harold Laski, J.W. Garner and others.

According to Gettell’s view, “Political Science is a historical investigation of what the State has been and analytical study of what the State is and the political, ethical discussion of what the State should be”. In other words it can be said that Political Science is the study of State in its past, present and future.

Paul Janet says, “Political Science is that part of social science which discusses the basis of the State and principles of governance”. But Garner says, “Political Science begins and ends with the State”. So, to all these scholars, State was the main object of study in Political Science.

As opposed to the State oriented definition there are other interpretations which look at the discipline from different angles. Mostly offered by the Behavioral political scientists such definitions are integrated on the State. For theĀ Behavioral political scientists like Graham Wallas, Arthur F. Bentley, Harold Lasswell, David Easton and others the State has no special significance. Wallas views Political Science as a discipline “that studies human nature in Politics”. Lasswell and Kaplan define it as “the study of shaping and sharing of Power”. While Lasswell and Kaplan believe in power as the key object in Political Science, David Easton has defined Political Science as “Authoritative allocation of values”- a term which he himself coined and explained. He has roughly translated authoritative allocation as policy making.

So, the State independent definition of Political Science which are mostly modern and offered by the Behavioral political scientists place greater emphasis on the informal process of Political Science. Still as Students of Political Science we have to remember that the negligence of the State as a major subject of study in Political Science undoubtedly render their interpretation incomplete.

According to the Marxists, power is the most important subject in politics. According to them, politics is the relationship among the classes. Lenin has said that “Politics is a concentrated expression of economics”.

Thus like many other disciplines, there is no single definition of Political Science. But after analyzing different definitions we are now in a position to formulate a workable definition of Political Science. It is a discipline which scientifically studies different subjects such as the State, the Government and the other political associations, human nature and groups in Politics, political power and communication, policy making, political participation, public administration as well as international relation.




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