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Approaches to the Study of political Science Various thinkers and scholars defined political science variedly and also

studied the political phenomena differently. This has witnessed various approaches to the study of political science. Broadly the approaches can be divided under two categories namely, Traditional and Scientific or modern approach. The traditional approach was basically normative in character and was mainly concerned with the question of what ought. It was more descriptive in nature. The focus of the study revolved on the state and its institutions and constitution of particular country. It paid little attention to the general social framework within which the institution and constitution operated. Furthermore, it was also characterised by methodological insensitivity. On the other hand the scientific or modern approach attempted to make the study more scientific and analytical and was concern with the question of what is. In other words it was based on facts. It not only focused on the state but also laid much emphasis on the system taking into account the general social framework within which the state operated. It has a general concern with analysing similarities and uniformities common to many system. Unlike the traditional approach it devoted itself and laid much emphasis on refining a method of study. Traditional Approach: Philosophical Approach: It is one of the oldest tradition of political analysis whose origin date back to the ancient Greece. It is usually referred to as political philosophy. Its main pre occupation is essentially ethical, prescriptive or normative reflecting a concern with what should be or ought to be. Plato, Aristotle, Aquinas are associated with it. Philosophical approach involves an analytical study of ideas and doctrines. It takes the form of history of political thought that focuses on a collection of major thinkers and is primarily interested in explaining what major thinkers said, developed or justified their views. Philosophy examines and answer the question in the larger context of the society and is holistic in nature. Historical Approach: As the name suggest it is based on the development and evolution in history. It uses knowledge of history and applies it to the understanding of political life. To study of politics is significant human activity and we should enquire into the past. Facts about the past are sought and it is concerned with the origin, nature, development and evolution of ideas, institution and process. This is the basic purpose/aim of historical approach. Knowledge regarding organised existence in the past provides the background to our understanding of politics as it has evolved. History thus supplies the accumulated wisdom of the past, its success and failure. It thus provide relevant information from which one can draw what is significant or what is likely to offer useful lesion in our search for a meaningful understanding of political life. The approach is chronological and descriptive seeking to explain linkages of political life with the changing social situation.

Institutional or structural approach: It lays stress on the study of formal structure or organs of the government i.e., legislature, executive and judiciary. It is also known as the structural approach as the emphasis was on structure. Latter it also included informal institution like interest groups, pressure groups, party etc. Legal Approach: It is also known as the juridical approach. Political scientist looked at the state for the maintenance of an effective and equitable system of law and order. As Dicery put it, state is created for enforcement of law. So matter relating to organisation, jurisdiction, independence of judiciary became important concern of political science. Modern Approach: Behavioural Approach: As the name suggest it stresses on the study of political behaviour as against the role of institution alone. It shifts the focus of study from institution to individual. It emphasise on the collection and examination of facts relating to actual behaviour of man as a social and political animal. It discard the subjective method of analysis and inducts scientific methodology and tools like, observation, tabulation, quantification and empiricism. The approach drew heavily from sociological approach which emphasised on the social context. It was inspired by the work of Comte, Weber, Parson, Almond and others. It saw the state more of a social than a political institution. Therefore the social context is necessary for the understanding and explaining political behaviour of the individual. David Easton was a staunch supporter of the behavioural approach and he provided the tenets/principles of behaviouralism which according to him is the intellectual foundation of the discipline. (For details see note on behaviouralism.) Post Behaviouralism: Behaviouralism as an approach met with much criticism. It was criticised for its over reliance on method and techniques making the study of politics too technical. It tended to be hyper factualism, where much emphasis was laid on the collection of facts and data without answering some of the major issues that shaped political system. In its attempt to study scientific it ignore the role and nature of state. Easton himself pointed out that the approach was ignoring important ethical and moral consideration of politics and was also not able to resolve or provide answer to the problem faced by the society. As the term suggest it was the search for a new perspective going beyond the behavioural approach. It was an extension of behavioural approach but also indicated a process of revolution and restatement of new priorities and obligation. Easton states that political science should be future oriented and techniques of study and research, although good, must be preceded by substance. That is contemporary problems need to be examined and the crude realities of life, the day to day struggle needs to be taken note of. Furthermore, he state that it is better to be value laded than being value free.

Political analyst need to comprehend the relevancy of issues and problems and should be able to assess the social reality. Values cannot be separated from politics as values enable us to understand the context of issue and problems. For Feminism and New Social Movement See Amal Ray and Mohit Bhattacharya, Political Theory: Ideas and Institutions