Vous êtes sur la page 1sur 37

Study of Politics (Various Approaches


Article shared by : Nitisha

Meaning of Approach:

From the days of ancient Greek political thought scholars, philosophers and
political scientists have analysed, investigated various types of political
issues and incidents from the standpoint of their own perspective and on the
basis of the study they have arrived at conclusions and prescribed

This has inevitably led to the emergence of a number of approaches to the
study of political science. Now we shall first of all try to analyse various
aspects of each approach but before that we shall define approach. We have
already noted Van Dyke’s points on another issue. According to Van Dyke the
word “approach is defined to denote the criteria employed in selecting the
questions to ask and the data to consider in political inquiry”.

In the opinion of Van Dyke, approach means criteria. A criterion is used to
explain or analyse the political questions and data. Since the questions and
data are very great in number and varied in nature each political scientist or
philosopher analyses them in his own way by applying his own standpoint
and method.

In physical or chemical science there exists an agreed method and more or
less all researchers and scientists apply those agreed methods. But there is
hardly any place of broad based agreement in political science as to the
method and approach.

Another aspect of approach is methods employed by political science for its
study cannot be distinguished from the methods used by other branches of
social science. So also the approaches of political science are not different
from other approaches.

However, this general observation is not hundred percent correct. Sometimes
the approaches employed by political scientists differ in content from the
approaches used by other social scientists. Thus variety of approaches for the
study of political science is a central aspect of the subject.

Again from the past history of political science we gather the idea that at
different periods different approaches have gained importance. In other
words, the rise and fall in the importance of approaches is a noticeable

Approach, we can say, is a scientific way of studying a subject. The students
will have to analyse and categorize data, facts, events, problems etc. The
point to note is that they cannot do it unscientifically or proceed haphazardly.
To be precise, for a balanced and effective analysis and promising
investigation analysts must proceed in a systematic way and for that purpose
the students or analysts must apply a method or criterion and we call it

Therefore, approach is a way to analyse a subject or what may suitably be
called a discipline. It is believed by many that the application of an approach
considerably enhances the importance and credibility of the analysis as well
as discipline. So without an approach the analysis of the subject may not be
in a position to receive wide support from the readers and also their

Classification of Approaches:

The approaches employed by political scientists for the study of politics have
been classified by Wasby in the following way: one classification may be
based on fact-value problem. This leads to the division of classification into
normative approach and empirical approach.

The other classification is based on the objective of study of political science.
That is, in this approach the political scientists want to stress the specific
purposes of studying and investigating politics. This broad group can again be
subdivided into philosophical, ideological, institutional and structural


Some scholars are of opinion that Wasby-proposed classification of
approaches is generally traditional in nature. Modern political scientists have
made a broad classification of the approaches. On the one hand there is
normative approach which to some extent liberal bias and on the other hand
Marxist approach.

In the second half of the last century a large number of political scientists of
America and later on other countries began to analyse political issues,
incidents and behaviour from the standpoint of behaviour (particularly the
political behaviour) of the individuals. David Easton championed this


In formal language it is called behaviouralism or political behaviour and after
very few years this behaviouralism landed on post- behaviouralism. Recently
some scholars have attempted to analyse political science in a feminist way
and it is called feminist approach.

Normative Approach:

The Meaning and Origin of Normativeness:

The term normative is derived from the Latin word norma, meaning precept
rule, carpenter’s square. The word norm means usual, typical or standard
thing. Normative relates to norm or standard. The central idea of normative
approach is—the subject is viewed and analysed normatively that is there are
certain standards, rules and precepts which must find their application in
political science.

normativeness talks about preference. Origin of the Approach: Normative approach to the study of politics owes its origin to the political philosophy of Greek philosopher Plato. ‘ought’. the objectives and functions of state are judged in the background of preference. In most of the city-states in Plato’s time there was no place and recognition of morality. should and ought. The picture of state that prevailed in Plato’s time was very far from of what ought to be or should be.Again. The word preference is not different from should and ought. The thought of a good society or an ideal state and the entire structure of such a state are built upon the concepts like ‘should’. political science means in its operative aspects. standards and precepts. Therefore. When the state starts its operation its primary objective would be to achieve the above-noted norms. Norm or normativeness is explained in terms of “should” and “ought”. Or it ought to do it. ideals and ethics. It means that the authority should do it or adopt such and such policy or decision. He said that any state or society ought to be or should be ideal or good and he has elaborated the criteria of good or ideal in his The Republic. virtue. ADVERTISEMENTS: Hence norms are several principles which an authority cannot deny. ‘preference’ etc. The success and failure will determine the nature. But he firmly believed that a state ought to have these eternal values and he also said that in order to be an ideal state all individuals must be ideal that is they must . acceptability of the state or government. The accountability of the authority is also based on these norms and principles. credibility. To sum up.

not a means of ignoring it”. But the great adherents of the approach declare unambiguously that norms. It is assumed by some that since normative principles relates to what should be or ought to be these principles can easily be ignored. The normativeness wants to give preference to should and ought to be. “Normative theory should be a reflection on practice. Utopia means something which has no practical foundations and it is not supported by reasons. it asks instead about how they ought to be made. His great disciple Aristotle followed the footsteps of Plato and elaborated the ideal state. It wants the realisations of certain universal values. His famous book Utopia was published in 1516 and here he depicted the picture of an ought to be state.possess virtues such as morality and various ethical qualities. . Again with the help of this standard existing situations are to be judged. The normative approach stressed by Plato. Large number of philosophers began to scan the existing systems by Utopian criteria. Aristotle. at least in broad institutional terms”. He disapproved the drawbacks that characterised the prevailing state of his time and that led him to think of an ought to be state. detail their logical characteristics and explore their implications for social policy. Central Idea of Normative Approach: The central idea of the normative approach to the study of politics is politics or analysis of state or the functions of state are to be viewed in the light of what ought to be rather that what they are. In latter periods we come across a number of philosophers who emphasised the normative approach of politics and the great contractualist Rousseau is a prominent figure. Thomas More (1478-1535) imagined of a Utopia or an imaginary state. and Rousseau etc has assumed the form and colour of Utopia. “Instead of asking how social policy decisions have come to be made. In such studies the aim is to examine a set of political principles. norms or principles through. the machinery of state. or principles are not to be ignored but they are to be implemented.

Any biasness will invariably plague the proper functioning of state as well as decision making process. But that does not matter. In other words. Normative approach envisages of striking a balance or equilibrium between what is or what happens and ought to be or should be. If certain norms and principles are put forward and if they are made binding on the authority. are important no doubt but every authority must follow these norms and ideals. people can judge the success or failure of the authority. Components of the Normative Approach: In the normative approach there is an emphasis on what is good and what is not good. Normative approach stipulates that norms or principles are of immense value and importance so far as the determination of policy and decision and their implementation are concerned. It may be that the expectations do not always tally the real results. principles or eternal ideas relating to politics or function of state constituted the central idea of normative approach to the study of politics. decision and function of authority. The members of political organisation want to fulfill their manifold desires and they expect that the authority shall act accordingly. ‘Is’ or ‘what’ is happening. The concept of goodness is linked with expectation. The expectations fall in the category of “ought to be”. this approach says that norms or principles are to be followed in practice and the aim of such norms is to make the political organisation acceptable to all or majority people. The term good starts to scan the policy. In other words. norms are easy of locating the responsibility. It says that when a policy-maker proceeds to formulate policy or adopt a decision he must see that to what extent the policy or decision will produce desired results. The normative approach establishes the concept of responsibility. Good also relates to the attainment of welfare objectives of the state. .Thus we can say that values.

Importance of Normative Approach: It is now evident that in normative approach there is lot of importance of norms. They have importance and a large number of political scientists and statesmen still believe that the norms have immense importance. ideals. It moves from one stage to another. ideas. principles are of eternal in nature but scholars are of opinion that the word ‘eternal’ need not be taken seriously. In every age certain norms. etc. cannot be thrown into the wind. values. It is still believed that the normative approach can be helpful for the day to day activities of state. The criticism by the supporters of the normative approach has not always succeeded in changing the prevailing course of action of the state or the un-normative principles of the authority. values. . Normative approach never thinks of anything settled. It further believes that they have got relevance in the study of politics. But it has been able to aware the public about the state of activities of political organisation. It is always in an unstable condition. are always subject to change and a responsible authority must take this change into account and also will act accordingly. The balancing process is not a stable one. values and principles are given more importance and they are given priority. values. Even today the same approach is followed. norms etc. Though it is generally argued that norms. The normative approach criticises the functions. That is normative approach though pays heavy emphasis on norms it proceeds with the change. Values. This approach suggests that what is going on should be changed for the better. But on this ground the norms. It is a fact that all these cannot be translated into reality. principles and policies of the existing states as did Plato in his The Republic.An authority aiming at the attainment of general welfare objectives cannot take the risk of neglecting either ought to be or what is.

it must perform many other functions which will bring about general welfare to the society. There is also a possibility that the norms could not be fulfilled. It means that the state should make continuous efforts for the improvement of its functions and this again means that there should be certain ideals. After deciding the principles or general objectives the state proceeds to implement them. Otherwise it will have to sail in an uncharted sea. norms and principles which it should apply while deciding policies and taking decisions. The rise of welfare state and its increasing popularity have added new feathers to this approach. principles on the other hand are always at par. The fact is that the state should decide certain ideals and then it will begin its journey. But this criticism is not tenable. But this non-implementation does not invalidate the ideals. values and principles which have not full relevance to the reality of social and political situation. The function of the state is not a static one. But the non-fulfilment does not call for its rejection. . It is apprehended that there may arise conflict between practice and ideals or between “is” and “ought to be” and this conflict may dwarf the activities of the state. All these are declared in various forms such as constitution. The Preamble to our Constitution contains several lofty ideals and many of them are yet to be achieved. The concept of welfare state declares that the function of the state does not exhaust in maintaining law and order alone. laws and general policy decisions. The welfare objectives on the one hand and ideals. norms. The welfare objectives pay more importance upon the ought to be or should be. ideals. This can be illustrated by the Constitution of India. As every individual should decide certain principles which he wants. a state should also decide or set up certain ideals.It is alleged that normative approach to the study of politics is a smack of norms. principles and norms before it. Norms are always norms and they always act as guiding stars. But a pragmatic theory of state does not suggest that the state should sail in an uncharted sea. In a dynamic society it should also be dynamic. to follow.

Legal approach and empirical approach have importance no doubt. Historical Approach: Meaning and Nature of Historical Approach: The historical approach to the study of politics is one of the traditional approaches. his communism. History means the records of past incidents and facts. The supporters of the normative approach say that this hints at the efficiency of the state. Once the norms and ideals are declared the authority of the state should make arrangement for their implementation any discrepancy between promises and performance will call for a valuation of the activities. The utilitarianism has not been strictly followed or it is ignored. We all know that all these can never be achieved but we still hope that we must try to achieve them because they are our ideals. philosopher king. If the discrepancy stands at a minimum level that will be an indication of the efficiency of the state. Marx’s classless state or society. It is not surprising that in the writings and thought systems of every philosopher there is an important place of ideals and principles and this place is very much important. Its great pro pounders proposed that the state authority must follow the principle of pleasure and pain or in general the policy of utility while making policy or taking decisions. These took place at different periods. Rousseau’s moral state etc still haunt us. “History as a record consists of documentary and other primary evidences” which occurred in the past. . Aristotle’s polity.Plato’s ideal state. Some political scientists claim that an adequate and comprehensive political theory must duly take into account of the normative approach to the study of politics. Take the case of utilitarianism. but it still holds good as a policy of liberalism. So far as historical approach is concerned we shall concentrate our attention on historical events recorded in documentary evidences. It also means what people have thought or imagined. But normative approach has importance.

History is not simply the record of past events and achievements but the interpretations. The principles or conclusions of politics in many cases are based on historical incidents. They also arrange the events chronologically. Let us take an example. Two great personalities of political philosophy depended upon history in a . autobiographies. History is the store-house of events. comments and explanations made by the historians.The characteristic feature of historical approach is that history as a written or recorded subject focuses on the past events. Without history we cannot collect any past incidents. In order to find out a distinction between what powers he enjoyed past and powers now he is exercising. A very small part of British constitution is written. political parties and many other institutions worked. Powers and functions of Prime Minister. The American President enjoys enormous powers. History tells us how government. their successes and failures and from these we receive lessons which guide us in determining the future course of action. We can say the historians have made the task of the political scientists partially easy. But all his powers are not derived from the Constitution. To support or refute an argument or a conclusion one can cite facts recorded in the pages of history. descriptions by authors and journalists we come to know what event took place in the past. Briefly stated the historical approach means to study politics with the help of facts derived from history. All these are regarded as suitable materials for political scientists. The sources of British constitution are historical facts or incidents. Monarchy and different organs of government are derived from history. history helps us a lot in this regard. It is to be noted here that the events must have political baring or they must be politically significant. From the biographies. The comparisons and conclusions of historians very often throw ample light on principles of politics. These events provide the best materials upon which theory and principles of political science are built. From history we come to know how man was in the past and what he is now. Naturally. historical analysis is essential.

Marx’s theory of class struggle and increasing impoverishment of the working class are buttressed by historical data. inhabitants of a state are “hereditary cooperative groups. This is the main objection against the historical approach to the study of politics.” Here his main emphasis is on the tradition and practice of political community. Hegel drew inspiration in formulating a philosophical theory of civilisation and its manifestation in national state from the study of history. He also distrusts rationalism. Evaluation of Historical Approach: The historical approach to the study of politics has faced a few challenges from several quarters. The implication is adequate care should be taken while evaluating evidence and facts and it is not surprising that such a caution is not always strictly followed and. Again. . One of the main fulcrums of the challenges is history has two faces— one is documentation of facts which is quite naive and the other is interpretation of facts and phenomena. compose a single community. Dyke says that Marx has reified and personified history. And for this reason it is proper that at the academic level the study of politics should be an historical study.remarkable way.” Oakshott’s final observation demands our special attention. In fact. He offers us the following observation: “Politics as the activity of attending to the general arrangements of a collection of people who ……. They are Marx and Hegel. the accumulation of evidences is to be judged from a proper perspective. We can in this connection remember the opinion of a critic. as a result the historical facts do not serve the proper purpose of those who use it.” Not only Oakshott but many other modern political’ scientist have supported the historical approach to the study of political science. In his judgment. a concrete manner of behaviour. Michael Oakshott unequivocally lays emphasis on the historical approach of the study of politics. He says “what we are learning to understand is a political tradition.

The adoption of caution is mandatory because history records fabricated data. Parliament and other departments of Government. Many other thinkers have depended upon historical facts for the analysis of politics. how much caution the historian will take cannot be said before- hand. Narrowness in outlook prevails upon them leading to the biased interpretation of facts. Caution is. This cannot provide a better and reliable basis for political science. and political history is often simply a record of great men and great events. Facts and incidents are not always correctly recorded. Their method is historical. His treatment of history is really unique. the interpretation of phenomena”. The writings of these authors are encouraging and have created precedents. Robert Mackenzie studied the party system and Mackintosh investigated the working of cabinet system of England. The depth of analysis. broadness of outlook and impartiality of treatment has elevated his research and students of politics still remember him. Of course. It depends upon the person and the facts. Many of them have . Sir Ivor Jenning’s is a great authority on British constitution and his analysis about various aspects of British Constitution is still regarded as authentic. The historian must be sincere in collecting facts and impartial in interpreting them.He says: “History in the light of the best modern practice is to be sharply distinguished from the antiquarianism or the collection of facts for their own sake and should be defined rather as the study of problems or causes. From the records of history Jennings has formulated a comprehensive account of the British Prime Minister. but they have interpreted the documents liberally. He says “past evidence does leave–alarming gaps. rather than a comprehensive account of total political activity. Such an approach only can be helpful for the study of politics. This is not an imaginary allegation. essential. however. Alan Ball has drawn our attention to another dark side of the historical approach.” Very few historians interpret historical events and evidences broadly and liberally.

Somewhat more broadly it denotes general conceptions of ends and means. But the philosophical approach is indifferent to the nature or category of truth. Philosophical Approach: Meaning and Nature of Philosophical Approach: Philosophical approach is another traditional or classical approach of studying politics. It also tries to establish standards of good. The important plus point of philosophical approach is it enters into the depth of every aspect of political phenomena and scans them without any partiality Its interpretation of political activities evokes interest in the minds of students of politics Words and phrases used by philosophers throw light on the subject. purposes and methods. The truth which this approach establishes or finds out may be of various kinds-normative. right and just.” The purpose of philosophical approach is to clarify the words and terms used by the political philosophers.” It means that philosophy or philosophical approach attempts to find the truth of political incidents or events. The purpose of philosophical approach is to analyse the consequences of incidents in a logical and scientific manner. It has been . It explores the objective of political writings or the purpose of political writer.been successful. According to Van Dyke “philosophy denotes thought about thought. philosophy “is the study or science of truths or principles underlying all knowledge and being. enhances linguistic clarity. descriptive or prescriptive. There are many definitions of philosophy and one such definition is. That is why it is said that this approach aims at thought about thought. but not all. it is claimed. The method applied by philosophical approach is logical analysis. Philosophical approach. It uses reason to find out the truth. The enquiry started by the philosophical approach removes confusion about the assumptions.

observed by a critic that the objective of this approach is to determine what is in the interest of the public and he identifies interest more with ends that with means. Machiavelli and Hobbes wrote to support royal absolutism. In the contemporary Greek city-states of Plato morality. In the vast range of political science there are a number of great or remarkable books Philosophical approach wants to explore the meaning and central theme of these books as well as the exact purpose of the authors. Rather. Criticism of the Philosophical Approach: In spite of the immense importance of the philosophical approach to the study of politics critics have raised several questions about its worthiness. but it must not be forgotten that the books were written at particular and critical moment of history. He wanted to establish that politics and morality are not antithetic concepts. We may not agree with the views of these philosophers or the arguments of these books. the philosophical approach helps us to the acquainted with the political ideologies of past centuries. moral values and idealism degraded to such an extent that he received a great shock and seriously thought to revive these and this urge prompted him to write The Republic. Philosophical approach helps us to understand the contemporary history and the nature of politics suggested by philosophers. In this sense. the philosophical approach is highly important. . One of the central ideas of political philosophy is idealism and it is prominent in Plato’s The Republic Critics say that idealism itself is quite good but when its practical application arises it appears to be a myth. To put it in other words. an ideal and moral body politic can be made a real one through the selfless administration by a philosopher-king. John Locke wrote his Second Treatise to justify the interests and objectives of the new middle class and he struggle of people for liberty.

Machiavelli and Hobbes wrote with the sole purpose of supporting the status quo. but it had not practical importance and be fully realised that idealism would never be translated into reality. their love for liberty. It is true that these values will never be realised in reality. economic and political situations. The idealist philosophers of earlier periods had strongly advocated certain moral. Their philosophy may impress us but does not guide us. We cannot forgive Hobbes for his authoritarian view and anti-individualist stand. Machiavelli supported royal absolutism for the unification of Italy. As an academic discipline philosophical approach is all right. For example philosophies of Marx. These philosophers took a realistic view of society. Engels. The eternal value of Plato’s idealistic philosophy in politics is not divorced from morality and idealism. ethical and ideal values. The philosophical ideas of particular philosophers are to be judged in the background of contemporary social. They were indifferent to people s liking and disliking. Lenin guide us and in the purpose was to change the society.Idealism was a favourite theory of Plato. It is a subject of sheer imagination. But ideal is ideal. but as. Evaluation: Plato and Hegel were impractical philosophers no doubt. They had no intention to propagate ideas which can change society. it guides us. their sorrows and sufferings and they failed to provide prophylactic devices. The philosophical thinkers of the earlier epochs were impractical thinkers. practical guide for action it has hardly any importance. Hobbes wanted to save England from disorder and anarchy which engulfed the British Society of his time. The idealism and philosophy of Marx. They interpreted history from materialistic point of view. There are other philosophers who do not fall in this category. . Engels and some others had a relation to material world.

arts and literature. Marx spoke of emancipation of the toiling mass. Locke’s liberalism appears and reappears. able. Plato’s main concern was justice and ideal state. If we want to free politics from these. This denotes that in the study of politics the help of economics is essential. The purpose of the welfare state is to ensure emancipation. Ruosseau could not tolerate the alienation of man from society and the loss of liberty with the progress of civilisation. We are not thinking about a philosopher-king. moral and ideal ruler who may be a prime minister or president. His constitutionalism has an important place in British and Indian systems. . The philosophical approach to the study of politics throws light on these aspects of politics. In the Preamble of the Constitution of India there is a word ‘justice’. In the curriculum of universities of India and many other countries a few decades ago economics and political science constituted a single subject which implies the close relationship between the two. To him the state was a public moral person whose chief duty was to ensure liberty and morality as well as to reform the people. Degradation of moral values and rampant corruption are the distinguishing features of the society which is at the threshold of the 21st century. we must try to revive moral values and idealism about which Plato spoke long ago. but we must think about an honest.All of them were great patriots. Other Approaches: Economic Approach: Economics and politics are two important disciplines of social science and in several respects they are intimately related. In our analysis of the philosophical approach to the study of politics we must remember these points. All these constitute the elements of idealism and we cannot treat them insignificant.

There are many specialists and advisers. but the chief actors are the members of the government. To emancipate from exploitation the workers are forced to take the path of struggle. Policy regarding production and distribution. Capitalist’s profit making motive leads to exploitation of workers.The policy formulations -of economic nature and determination of the principles of planning which has recently become a part of the governmental activity are done by the government. In most of the countries of the world public issues are economic issues and here the main—. agricultural policy. Perhaps Marx is the only philosopher who has forcefully argued (of course with reason and data collected from history) the relationship between the two important subjects of social science. Marx and Engels have emphasised the heterogeneity of interests between the classes. labour policy are all economic issues. The doctrine of class struggle. though within the jurisdiction of economics. Classes are formed on the basis of economic interests. Fiscal policies of all types. The executive branch takes the final decision. Outside economic influence. . The idea of emancipation is associated with economic terms. According to Marx. politics is controlled by the persons who own sources of production and manage the process of distribution. It is to be pointed out here that the impact of success and failure of the economic policies fall upon the government. This obvious relationship between the two subjects has placed the economic approach in a convenient position. The greatest attribution of the economic approach to the study of politics comes from the pen of Marx and Engels. Since the question of implementation is to be looked up by the government. and sometimes the only—actors are the personnel of the government such as the prime minister. the final say comes from the government side. So we cannot discuss politics without discussing economics. is always taken up by the government. president and other ministers. increasing impoverishment and capitalism’s exploitation are based on economic factors. industrial policy. Marx’s theory of base and superstructure is a matter of relationship between economics and politics. politics has no independent authority.

We. both sociology and politics deal with society in its broadest perspective.” Culture in various ways influences the political behaviour of individuals which is again studied by political scientists. Society is another important topic of sociology and the sociologists devote a considerable part of their analysies to the exploration of various aspects of society Students of politics also treat society with considerable emphasis. These institutions play important role in moulding the character. “Culture refers to the totality of what is learned by individuals as members of society. Readers of politics are quite well-known with political culture which is composed of the attitudes beliefs emotions and values of society that relate to the political system and its political issues.The interest group approach to the study of politics is popular in some liberal democratic countries and this conception is associated with economic approach. Sociological Approach: Political science and sociology both are social sciences and in several places they overlap. . Thus. it is a way of life a mode of thinking. Needless to say that all these fall within the study area of political science. interest group politics and economic approach are mutually dependent. group behaviour and attitude of group. acting and feeling. therefore. The relationship is characterised by both conflict and cooperation and these in turn give rise to politics Individuals form institutions which are also parts of society. culture. find that so far as culture is concerned. attitudes and behaviour of individuals. it is the subject matter of both sociology and political science. Any sociological analysis of society without its political orientation is bound to be incomplete. Hence. Society is composed of human beings who form intimate relationship among themselves. The areas of sociological studies are human behaviour including the political behaviour. Interest groups or pressure groups create pressure to achieve economic objectives. society.

The researchers of politics study the behavioour of various groups and how they discharge their functions in similar and different environment.Human beings form not only society but also group based on a network of social relationships. juvenile delinquency. For example. There are numerous sociological studies about these social relationships. relationships and institutions. divorce. Similarly. There are various associations or groups within every society and they are normally formed on the basis of profession. The studies of sociologists and political scientists are interdependent. teachers of political science have formed political sciences association. Not all these associations and groups are directly related to the political authority. sociologists analyse them in a broader perspective. Those who take a sociological approach to the study of politics give attention to the kinds of questions and the kinds of data…. Policy formulations and legislations to a large extent depend upon the sociological studies. Studies by sociologists on crime. A recent analyst has observed: “Political behaviour. there are doctors’ club. The sociologist investigates the relationship between behaviour pattern and social conditions. women’s forums. trade unions. conditions of slum and urbanisation guide the government and . student’s organisations. Political scientists are concerned only with the impact of the behaviour and function upon politics. On the other hand. Politics. political relationships and political institutions are within the realm of sociology along with other kinds of behaviour. Political science thus overlaps with sociology just as it overlaps with history and economics. studies only the political aspects. of course. Politics also studies these relationships.political movements of all sorts can be studied on the basis of a sociological approach to politics”. but they are not outside the jurisdiction of state and an interaction between groups or associations and state is never a rare occasion.

Because he thinks that power only can provide security. Utilitarian philosopher Bentham studied well the psychology of the middle class people who sought to maximise their happiness. Psychological Approach: Politics and psychology have close relation.legislators. This studies the behaviour. It is not an exaggeration to hold that the foundation of behaviouralism is psychology of the individuals. They also study why certain individuals behave in a certain way. upon psychological factors. Psychologists normally study the political behaviour of individuals and factors leading to such behaviour. Men of the state of nature were power hungry. to a considerable extent. quarrelsome and envied each other. He has depicted the nature of men who lived in the state of nature. Locke’s people strongly desired to have freedom and right and to that end they build up a civil society. a new subject has gained popularity—it is psychology. Hobbes has said that every individuals wants security and for that he desires to accumulate power. of the voter and the researchers after studying various aspects draw conclusions which very often serve the purpose of political leaders. Sometimes the psychologists focus their attention upon the group behaviour. attitude etc. man is by nature a social animal and his sociability is the prime reason of the emergence of political organisation which is called state. Recently. Hobbes’ political philosophy is based. Political scientists of today’s world are extremely curious to know how motives and emotions work in the field of political activity. Only death could draw a curtain upon this ceaseless struggle. According to Aristotle. Modern states are no doubt welfare states and the authorities of such states can neglect the sociological studies on the above issues only on their own peril. We can collect dozens of instances from the pages of the history of political thought as to how psychology and politics are related. Bentham . Psychology of man is that man wants to live with others.

The institutional approach is also called structural approach. This is absolutely a psychological issue. scholars. According to this definition family. therefore. legislature all are institutions. pressure and interest groups. Readers. Individuals in any society pursue conflicting desires and this is the path-finder of politics. created to meet human requirements. Statesmen of international repute are of opinion that for peace and security it is essential that all sorts of fear are to be removed from the mind. Institution relates the structure and machinery through which human society organises. Institutional Approach: Institutional approach to the study of politics is very common today and according to Wasby it is important. The idea to launch a war emanates from the mind and for that reason it has been suggested that attempts are to be made to remove that pernicious idea from the mind. researchers and even ordinary people are accustomed to view politics in term of the institutions. likes and dislikes behind every type of political activity. Political parties. Institutions are. The proletarians desire to end the exploitation let loose by the capitalists. Marx’s theory of class struggle is also based on psychology. Even in international politics the influence of psychology is discernible. According to Maclver institutions are established forms of procedure. . There are motives. So politics cannot be alienated from psychology. The big or super-powers are involved in power politics to establish their domination and enhance their image in international society. government and state and all types of organisations which have flourished within the states are institutions. directs and executes multifarious activates required to satisfy human needs.projected their psychology through the tendency of avoiding pain and welcoming pleasure.

The British and American political scientists up to the Second World War concentrated their attention on legislature. This is also the definition of politics. He says. They did not think it proper to throw light on the other factors of politics. Wasby’s definition is little bit elaborate. party system and pressure group activities. “The emphasis of the institutional or structural approach is almost exclusively on the formal aspects of government and politics. They are inclined to say that the institutions in political analysis are of prime importance. Since various institutions constitute the structure of society it is also called structural approach”. politics to a group of thinkers was institution. important for politics. . Chief objection against this approach is institutions are. was studied in the light or perspective of the function and behaviour of institutions.concept and nothing else. Political science. for long periods of time. The institutional approach has been vehemently criticised. In a word. Dyke’s cogent remark is-the study of politics is the study of the state or of government and related institutions.e. but they cannot form the entire structure of politics. The supporters of this approach have interpreted politics narrowly. Politics thus.The traditional political thinkers were primarily concerned with the activities and role of the different types of institutions and they viewed politics in terms of the institutions. The emphasis of institutional or structural approach is that the institutions their rules and procedures are important for the analysis of political phenomena and not the individuals constituting the institutions. The advocates of institutional approach do not even consider the impact of institutions or rules upon the individuals. Without individuals the institutions have no practical importance and it is unfortunate they have not paid proper attention to them. institutions. because they have neglected the individuals who form the institutions. The institutionalists have been charged of being biased. cannot be separated from state or government i. no doubt.

Criticisms of the Traditional Approach: The traditional approach to the study of politics has been under attack from several corners and the main points of attack are noted below: The traditional approaches have dismally failed to recognise the role of the individuals who play very important roles in moulding and remoulding the shape and nature of politics. It is surprising that behind all the institutions there are individuals who control the structure. The decision-making process of the nation state is influenced by international events and the political activity of other nation states. but it is also analytical. The focus is directed to the institutions. . Politics does not rule out description. In fact. Its purpose is to go to the depth of every incident. non-governmental organisations or trans-national bodies. The definition politics as the study of institution’ is nothing but an exaggeration or it may be called a travesty of truth. The view-point of the traditionalists is. but also why a particular incident occurs at a particular time. limited within the institutions. Singling out institutions and neglecting individuals cannot be pronounced as proper methods of studying politics. Political scientists of today’s world are not inclined to limit their analysis of politics within the four walls of institutions. functions and other aspects. individuals are important actors of both national and international politics. When the traditionalists were writing the nature of politics. It has not the ability to meet the needs which are rising in the present age. They have investigated the role of environment into which is included international politics multinational corporations. Traditional approach is mainly descriptive. Viewed in this light we can say that traditional approach is biased and incomplete. Mere description of facts does not necessarily constitute the subject matter of political science. Researchers want to know not only what is happening. the interdependence of national and international politics was not unknown to them and it is their failure not to recognise if.

It is. Comparative Approach: . We shall now turn our attention to other approaches such as comparative approach. Other basic emphases were also questioned. To compensate this deficiency the political scientists of the post-Second World War period have devised a general system approach which is quite comprehensive. alleged that traditional analysis is unsuitable for all types of political systems—both Western and non-Western. “Just as a dissatisfaction with an over-concentration on the philosophical approach to the study of politics had brought a shift towards the study of institutions and formal structures. He says. so there was increasing realisation that institutional approach did not encompass all the world of politics. recognised that there is much material within political science not subject to legal examinations. Political scientists of an institutional bent. freed from the European location of political science within faculties of law. Scholars began to recognise problems in the use of the “State” concept. if we try to find out Western system or institutions that will be an utter failure. In these countries.Attention is to be paid to another shortcoming. Before drawing a curtain upon this part of analysis we like to quote liberally the observation of Stephen Wasby. particularly the countries which do not follow the Western political system in to. therefore. the legal approach to politics and the institutional approach had never completely coalesced. The traditional approach as a method of analysing politics is deficient for the analysis of political institutions of the Third World countries. The scholars also devoted their energy to the comparative analysis of various political systems. power approach and interest group approach.” Students and researchers of politics began to extend their outlook and interest to the other areas and these required new approaches. with an accompanying move from normative to empirical outlooks. Because not all rules and structures have been reduced to law.

When only selected or particular aspects of various political systems are compared we call it micro-comparison. parties and pressure groups. For a proper and effective comparison it has been suggested that the similarities and the dissimilarities are to be put in different groups. What are to be Compared? Wasby’s suggestion is “one only compares those things which one conceives to be comparable”.” We have already noted that the traditional approaches were mainly concerned with the institutions such as legislatures. Comparison may be macro or micro. which means that the institutions of one political system are to be compared with those of another system and in doing this we can expect to have the best results.What is Comparative Approach? The comparative approach to the study of politics has been termed by Alan Ball a “link between the traditional approaches to political science and the more recent developments in the discipline. Comparative approach takes the cognizance of the fact that all the institutions or structures are vital to politics and its analysis. Central Idea of Comparative Approach: Originally the comparative approach to study politics was confined to the developed and matured political systems. In the comparative analysis both methods are adopted. A proper and methodical comparison will reveal the exact nature of different political system and this helps the student to acquire ideas. This is the most suitable way of comparison. Un-comparable elements or features can never be compared. But when entire systems are compared it comes to be called macro. But here the matter does not end. But today the horizons of comparison have expanded to the boundaries of the less developed countries . These institutions are to be compared.

can easily be conceived. It is not always true that the institutions are compared. cultures and other facts have been included into the comparative study. because the old comparative approach was insufficient “to cover the phenomena of Western European politics in the course of the last fifty years” (Politics of the Developing Areas—Almond and Coleman). when introduced in other countries.developed countries and are also making comparisons. Every institution of a political system is organically connected with the rest of the system. by what . A comparative approach needs to be as broad as possible. The analysts and the researchers of the present epoch are investigating the functions of different institutions of Western political system and those of the less. The advocates of comparative approach suggest that for better results and unambiguous conclusions it is necessary that whole systems of two or more countries shall be compared. The Westminster type of parliamentary system has been imposed on many ex-colonies. Sometimes.and tribal areas of the various countries of the globe. The students of political science are studying and comparing. While comparing the different political systems the researchers or students making comparison must be well versed with the several aspects of the political system. Extracting one particular institution and comparing it with that of another state will lead to almost nothing or a cumbersome conclusion and such attempt should be eschewed. comparison on selective basis will be misleading. The almost universalisation of the comparative approach has radically changed the traditional outlook about it. The success and failure of Western institutions. Naturally. In spite of this problem we generally insist upon comparison selecting particular institutions of various political systems. As a result of the expansion of the periphery of the comparative approach the political institutions. This is a useful way of arriving at conclusions. New terms and conceptions have been introduced into it. Without this the comparison will be incomplete. structures.

In the opinion of Ball the comparative method is not a disinterested subject. The federal system provides a fertile field of comparative approach. Assessment of Comparative Approach: The comparative approach to the study of politics is very interesting. informative and also acts as a guidance. In federal system there are number of units in it and all of them enjoy certain amount of autonomy. its results are rewarding. In India the states do not enjoy such sort of autonomy and in spite of this comparative method is suitable. The success of a particular process or institution emulates others to follow or adopt it. Every party announces its own policy or programme and generally this based on the success or failure of a policy or programme derived from comparison. We also compare the accountability processes of different countries. Each unit of federation pursues its policies to some extent independently. . In the USA. Many useful information’s are furnished by the comparison. In a democratic system a comparative approach has special importance on the eve of election. are compared. the constituent states enjoy large amount of autonomy and because of this they have independent approaches to political issues and matters. The functioning of opposition in British House of Commons is unique and it is regarded as ideal. For example. the decision making processes of the two countries are compared. This is a fit case for better comparison. The Panchayati Raj of West Bengal may be compared with that of Tamil Nadu or Karnataka.processes the values are authoritatively allocated in different systems. The judicial systems of American states may also be compared. The Panchayat system and Land Reform of West Bengal have been highly praised by several Indian states and they have expressed their desire to take lessons. Again. how American and Chinese systems authoritatively allocate values. This makes the scope of comparison wide. The comparison induces an authority to accept or reject a particular policy or decision.

” William Robson. The basic fact. While analysing the relationship between power and politics Frederick Watkings writes. but the investigation of all associations in so far as they can be shown to exemplify the problem of power. processes. To view politics or political phenomena or political activity exclusively in terms of power might appear as an exaggeration. Both Machiavelli and Hobbes viewed politics in the light of power. another political thinker observes: “It is with power in society that political science is primarily concerned—its nature. But the widespread influence of power over politics is comparatively modern. Even the students of the history of political thought call Machiavelli the father of power politics. universally recognised. The Marxists have held that in . The concept of power in politics has a past. So far as various political concepts are concerned there are innumerable differences between Marxist and liberal thinkers. “The proper scope of political science is not the study of the state or of any other specific institutional complex. today. But both groups agree that politics and power are inseparable concepts. while defining politics we noted power and its relation to politics. to exercise power or influence over others or to resist that exercise”. basis. To all modern students of politics power is an important characteristic of politics and political activity. scope and results…… The focus of interest of the political scientist is clear and unambiguous. in spite of this. it centres on the struggle to gain or retain power. is that power approach to the study of politics is. Some even go further when they say that power is the chief motivating force of political activity. Now we shall see how politics is analysed and political incidents are investigated in terms of power.Power Approach: Central Idea of Power Approach: Earlier.

to acquire obligation or compliance. honour and position or they threaten to punish. The elites or interest groups are the chief actors in this field. political power is a very common phenomenon. sometimes indiscriminately. The type of power which is treated as an approach to the study of politics is political power. The struggle ends in the capture of power by the proletarians. Ball’s definition of this kind runs as follows: “Political power may be broadly defined as the capacity to affect another’s behaviour by some form of sanction. but to exert influence upon the administration. both have viewed politics in the background of power and power is in the centre of politics. What exact method is to be applied depends upon the situation and the attitude of the persons exercising power. They promise to give wealth. Sanctions may take the form of coercion or inducement: power may be backed by carrot or the stick and it may be exercised in a positive or negative fashion”. The liberals call it conflict and it is reconcilable. Whatever may be the differences. There are several methods or techniques at the disposal of the holders of political power and they use it sometimes with caution.any bourgeois society there are mainly two classes and they are involved in continuous struggle to capture power. In national politics. The liberals are of opinion that in every society (of course pluralist society) there are several centres of power and the holders or directors of these centres fight against each other The liberal thinkers assure us that the purpose of this struggle is not to seize state power or administration. Economically dominant class political party and even bureaucracy and military are actors and they exercise power which is at their disposal. .

(Nicholas Spykman quoted by Catlin in The Nature of Political Thought). has said “International politics. because it is beyond the ability of any authority. The struggle for power among the top party leaders of U. but not the only feature. by sermons and resolutions”. but not always. is a struggle for power. It is an obvious wrong assumption that only the liberal political system is cursed or characterised by power politics. The multiplicity of parties is the root cause of power politics. It is better to check the destructiveness of power politics.R after the death of Lenin may be cited as an example. In socialist system there is also a struggle for power. Insufficiency of resources and inequality of power between different groups lead them to the point of dissatisfaction and this creates a situation of conflict. Even the two party system is not free from power politics. Morgenthau has further observed that it will be a futile effort to try to eliminate the power politics from social life. One German writer wrote several years ago “Power. military power. power is always the immediate aim”. The result is that the individual states must make the preservation and improvement of their power position a primary objective of their foreign policy”. “International society is a society without a central authority to perceive law and order and without an official agency to protect its members in the enjoyment of their rights. When the states are the direct participants in power struggle they employ various techniques according to their own convenience.S. and it has not been and it will not be abolished by pious of opinions. Morgenthau. is as important in world history as it has ever been. Criticism: . In international society power normally assumes military character. Whatever the ultimate aims of international politics. like all politics.S. There are political parties who are striving to be at the helm of power or administration. Display or use of military power is a very common characteristic of international politics. an eminent scholar of international politics.There are many interest groups or groups of elites who are engaged in the management of political affairs. The concept of power is also more prominent in international politics.

There is no end of power. mainly political in nature. But it is beyond the consideration of power approach. the most mature and powerful capitalist system. of the world that certain reforms. We are talking about political power.According to Van Dyke: “The principal weakness of the power approach is its lack of precision. Different holders use it for various purposes and the techniques are not uniform. The manifestations of power are many. Different authors have defined it in their own ways. main actors of power politics. In liberal system. but they also cooperate among themselves to reach an amicable settlement. they pursue their interests. Interest Group Approach: Introduction: At the beginning of twentieth century it was felt in America. need to be introduced in order to save the system from . Various actors struggle for power.” On earlier occasions we have defined power. Power approach to the study of politics is biased. corporate bodies or business organisations are engaged in power struggle and that very often influences political authority. There is also ideological struggle. The states. try to enhance their image. The advocates of the power approach fail to convince us about the exact amount of power a state requires and this drawback has blunted the sharpness of the power approach. Power approach is also an incomplete notion. It is very difficult to measure power as well as its impact. but there is an end of struggle. But one drawback of this definition is it does not contain all the meanings of the term ‘power’. If power cannot be quantitatively measured how can we make estimate about its impact? The political actors do not always struggle for power alone.

In USA. Both of them have viewed politics in the light of interest group activity. The academics of political science thought that they had some responsibility in the determination of reforms and in offering guidelines in their implementation. In other words. attempts should be made in conceptualising it in the light of practical political activity. Political affairs of a society will come to a halt if there are no groups. Interest Group Defined and Its Role Explained: The interest group has been defined by Bentley in his The Process of Government in the following words: “It means a certain portion of men of a society. The efforts to pragmatise politics started at the beginning of the twentieth century. which does not preclude the men who participate in if from participating likewise in many other group activities. Walter Bagehot and George Wallace—all of British origin—adopted serious attitude to the subject. .” The political scientists of America took a leading part to make the subject a real or pragmatic science and since then scholars of other continents have followed them. interest groups are so active and powerful that any realistic analysis without them is impossible. Arthour Bentley (1870-1957) and David Truman are still treated as pioneers in this field. not as a physical mass cut off from other masses of men. But before doing that the subject is to be lifted from the present obscure and unattended position and a fresh dose of blood is to be injected.recurrent crises. taken.” Group activity is the vital point of any political society. but as a mass activity. James Bryce. however. One critic observes. “American political scientists and scholars of the state increasingly began to turn to scientific disciplines studying real social structures and processes.

ideas and attitudes. personality and behaviour everything has a meaning only in the context of a group to which an individual belongs. that we approach to a satisfactory knowledge of government”. To put it in other words. and pushing out new groups and group representatives to mediate the adjustment. But Bentley says that outside the group. Politics of every society is conditioned and determined by the group activity. The rhetoric and programmes are not sufficient for any interest group. Analysis of group activity reveals that groups generally do not always act without having an idea about the fulfillment of interests. or without the existence of group. forming one another. Hence interest. individuals have hardly any importance. . Needless to say that all these have their meaningful reference in politics. ADVERTISEMENTS: Their convictions. Individuals alone cannot change the nature and movement of politics without group interference. The existence and popularity of any interest group depend upon its alertness and activity in realisation of objectives. In his own words: “All phenomena of government are phenomena of groups pressing one another. This nature of groups actively associates them with the political matters of the state and this heralds group approach to politics. groups mould the behaviour.Bentley’s emphasis is that people’s approach to the state administration is always preconditioned by their ardent desire to secure those interests through manipulation and exerting pressure upon the authority. and get the whole process stated in terms of them. group activity and politics are inextricably related with each other and they constituted the vital aspects of politics. It is only as we isolate these group activities. ideas and ideology. determine their representative values. Bentley does not believe in groups without their interests.

The policies are initiated by the government and are implemented by various agencies. . most of the institutions and institutional activities within the state are moulded by the group activities to a large extent. makes certain claims upon other groups in the society for the establishment maintenance and enhancement of forms of behaviour that are implied in the shared attitudes. Truman’s The Government Process was published in 1951. 43 years after Bentley’s book was published. According to Truman. ideas and attitude of the groups are reflected upon the institutions. control even the election of the presidents and appointment of judges. The outlook. all the interest groups and pressure groups of liberal political system are its integral parts and they influence the activities. The groups always maintain the equilibrium among themselves. through their widely ramified agencies. To sum up.” Truman underlines the important part played by the various interest groups in the formulation and implementation of various policies of the state. of the political system. He focuses attention upon the interest group attitude to politics. The approach of the group is so decisive that it is impossible for any branch of government to ignore. The interest groups always activate the governmental functions and also compel the government to change its politics which are detrimental to the objectives of the interest groups. The shared attitudes constitute the interests. the president and the judiciary represent the official interest groups. the congress.Not only government. groups lie at the heart of the governmental process. Bentley has further maintained that even the constitution. and also check the disruptive forces. We say that the powerful interest groups. In defining interest group Truman says it is a collection of individuals which “on the basis of one or more shared attitudes. David Truman is another great personality who strongly advocated the group approach to politics in the post-war period. It is the group which is responsible for the stability of American political system.

emphasis on values in the study of politics has been revived. Over the years opinions on this have varied. the study of politics would be directionless and meaningless if it does not aim at realizing some values. there took place a shift in this view. 1. However. History or Law. The Philosophical Approach: The philosophical approach concentrates on the values which a political system should set for itself. . Plato. Emphasis was shifted from political norms and values to political behaviour. the Greek philosopher. this tradition was continued by Augustine and Aquinas. This renewed emphasis on norms and values in studying politics has given birth to 'post-behaviouralism'. Since late 19th century. In the medieval period. behaviouralism has dominated the study of politics. For a long time politics was considered as coming within the scope of Philosophy. An attempt was initiated to make the study of politics scientific. There are a number of approaches to studying politics. However. It is now realized that while scientific method is useful for studying politics.There is no unanimity about the way politics should be studied. in the late 19th century. The philosophical tradition of politics gradually yielded to the scientific tradition of politics. It emphasises that a political system should be based upon certain ideals and that it should strive to give shape to them. He said that it was the duty of the philosopher-king to establish the ideal society based on justice. The three important among them have been discussed here. represented best this philosophical tradition of politics. of late.

because it makes judgments and makes recommendations. The philosophical approach is normative. The first practitioner of this approach was Aristotle who studied a large number of constitutions in order to prepare a classification of constitutions. It involves an analytical study of ideas and doctrines which have long formed the core part of political thought. Further. it is based on values and norms. this approach has been criticized on the ground that it cannot be scientific as it ignores objective reality. However. Through his 'materialistic interpretation of history. the empirical approach is based on ground reality. On the contrary. The Empirical Approach: The empirical approach stresses on 'experience' or ground reality in the study of politics. It focuses on the study of political behaviour. But the empirical approach is descriptive because it tries to objectively study politics without any bias and prejudice. Behaviouralism in politics has been a product of the empirical tradition. .' he developed some 'Laws' which helped him predict the future. Machiavelli's 'Prince' which is an objective account of statecraft and Montesquieu sociological theory of government and law belong to this empirical tradition. 2. Those who sought to make the study of politics scientific argued that hypotheses could be verified on the basis of objective quantifiable data. the philosophical approach is prescriptive. Though this approach took a systematic theoretical shape in the 17th century as a result of the influence of John Locke and David Hume.The philosophical approach is also known as the traditional approach. 3. The Scientific Approach: Karl Marx has been hailed as the first to have described politics in scientific terms. this approach is almost as old as the philosophical approach.

The writings of John Rawls and Robert Nozick reflect this trend. marking the theoretical development of the scientific tradition of the study of politics. made a big impact. In 1970 a group of scholars argued that "behaviouralism narrowed down the scope of Political Science and undermined its quality by ignoring the value or values and norms in the study of politics.In 1950s and 1960s the study of politics assumed a new form called "behaviouralism" or "behavioural persuasion in politics". This doctrine. But before long it faced criticism and challenge. They stood for going back to political values and norms without discarding the scientific method of collecting and processing data. . This new phase in the study of politics has been known as post-behaviouralism.