Political science is a social science discipline that deals with systems of government and the analysis of political activity and political behavior.〔(Oxford Dictionary: political science )〕 It deals extensively with the theory and practice of politics which is commonly thought of as the 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 ). The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (1999-02-22). Retrieved on 2014-5-27.〕
Political science draws upon the fields of economics, law, sociology, history, anthropology, public administration, public policy, national politics, international relations, comparative politics, psychology, political organization, and political theory.
Although it was codified in the 19th century, when all the social sciences were established, the study of political science has ancient roots that can be traced back to the works of Chanakya, Plato and Aristotle which were written nearly 2,500 years ago.〔Britannica Concise Encyclopedia: political science〕 Political science is commonly divided into distinct sub-disciplines which together constitute the field:
* Comparative politics
* International relations
* Political theory
* Public administration
* Public law
* Political methodology
Political theory is more concerned with contributions of various classical thinkers such as Chanakya, Aristotle, Machiavelli, Cicero, Plato and many others.
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 science is methodologically diverse and appropriates many methods originating in social research. Approaches include positivism, interpretivism, rational choice theory, behavioralism, 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the social sciences, uses methods and techniques that relate to the kinds of inquiries sought: primary sources such as historical documents and official records, secondary sources such as scholarly journal articles, survey research, statistical analysis, case studies, experimental research and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 behavior 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 analyzing 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 analyze 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.
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."〔
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.〔''Politics'' is the term used to refer to this field by Brandeis University; Cornell College; University of California, Santa Cruz; Hendrix College; Lake Forest College; Monash University; Mount Holyoke College; New York University; Occidental College; Princeton University; Ursinus College; and Washington and Lee University. ''Government'' is the term used for this field by Bowdoin College; Colby College; Cornell University; Dartmouth College; Georgetown University; Harvard University; Smith College; Wesleyan University; the College of William and Mary; the University of Sydney; the University of Texas at Austin; the University of Ulster; the University of Essex; Victoria University of Wellington, which has both a "School of Government" and a separate "Political Science and International Relations Programme"; and the London School of Economics and Political Science. ''Politics and government'' is the term used by the University of Puget Sound. ''Government and politics'' is used by the University of Maryland, College Park.〕 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.
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