Approaches to the Study of Politics

Approaches to the Study of Politics

The approach to the study of politics is very divergent in nature, thought it started in the ancient time with the great political philosophers of Greek, during the times of Plato the politic was revolved around the ideal society, which existed for many years, in the medieval times of Christianity the focus was around the ethics, and were concentrated how to govern the human society. After that, restructured of those approaches with secular concerns, finally, this led to the improvement of sociological, psychological and legal analysis, which is still subjugated to achieve development and faultlessness in humans and society.

In the recent times in Western countries the politics is related with the aspects of law, and with other formal institutes. There are different theories to study the political significance of needs and ideas from theories of individualism and conflict theories of Marxism. The approaches to understand politics, are two different approaches such as, 1 Political Philosophy and Political science.

1 Political Philosophy: 

This is very normative and very hypothetical, for example justice, liberty and democracy might be explained as ideas and can realized them. It is considered the importance of the justifications and clarifications that validates and make sense of politics and how the societies might match up to their own prerogatives. It is more significant to note that how the people actually behave politically than the working of political institutes.

2 Political Science:

The second one analyses politics as quantitative and inductive parallel to natural science, both ways are different but united with political activity. This method was started in 20th century as a reaction against hypothetical political philosophy and study of official institutions. In this approach political analysis is done with the help of quantitative tools and methods of natural science and available facilities like computers.

The correct way differentiating the approaches to study politics is needed to study about norms, institutions, structures and behaviour. Though they have differences in the approaches but they are connected with each other. Political behaviour is connected with requirements for certain valued principles. The cohesiveness of politics with history and legality can be seen since the times of Aristotle to Locke. It was against the approach of behaviour and it was attacked by number of philosophers then, but in recent times they realized and argued that, formal legal and political institutions and methods can affect but it cannot be ignored. Hence, bureaucratic, police, military, legislative, executive and judicial institutions clearly have an independent impression on the behaviour both members and of outsiders in the institution. One need to recognise those structures that have an impact on the society than institutions. Social life can be related with caste, religion, ethnicity and class.

3 Liberal Approach:

The political theory which began in Europe during the 17th century is known as Liberalism, and has been continued presently as one of the leading theories and ideologies world-wide. This can be seen in those countries where political institutions controlled by liberal democratic governments. The countries which follows dictatorship and socialist countries have been left out. The development of liberal theory was brought in light because of the liberal thinkers of political thinkers like, Locke, Bentham and J.S Mill played an significant role in bring this political theory. The important influences of Locke are that, ideas of limited government, constitutionalism, rights of individuals and rule of law, Bentham influences like,

utilitarian concept and Mill’s contribution in individual liberty, plurality of opinions and principles of development of individual personality.

The important factor in this theory is that, though individual not the member of society or political community is responsible for the improvement of state. They thought that, state is artificial body prepared by the individual’s will so that, it can encourage the attention of the individuals and their rights. The liberal state is observed as an end but not the end itself, therefore, state cannot be absolute in its powers and it is inadequate to basic restriction.

The limitation on state power is main objective and was created by individuals, which aims at security, freedom, life, and property of the individuals. The liberal theory upholds that, state must restrict itself for the nominal purposes of enforcing law and order, defense from external hostility and some supervisory powers in the socio- economic accomplishments. In the liberalism the state must not interfere in the economic actions because it is self- accomplished based on free market and free competition. According to this theory state is impartial between individual and groups competing in society.  Latter assumptions liberalism constrain to democratic state in which authority is given to the persons who are elected through fair elections.

Every society has dissimilar wellbeing which compete and conflicts, to minimize these conflicts a social power and social methods are essential once the social power is formed that becomes the state and social method is devised and is known as politics. “Politics is therefore, viewed as power, a social process, behaviour that is concerned with the maintenance of law and order in the society and for coordinating and conciliating diverse private interests of individuals and groups. In fine, politics is a source of conflict and a mode of activity that seeks to resolve conflicts and promote readjustments”. The social competitions and conflicts cannot be understood like class war, they require the situations of peace and order to live in th society as ‘free’ and ‘open’ lives.

We can also illustrate the liberalism in the state as it associates with capitalistic economy built on market competition and political democracy. The political power is tested by the electorate while the economic power is not. It is evident that economic power is not given to the state. When we say political state means it is controlled by the electorate and depends on other factors as well. First, the right to freedom of expression and right to property. Second significant factor joined with liberal sate is rule of law, means that, all citizens are similar before the law, no one or institution even government are equal.

4 Marxism Approach:

The Marxism approach is quite different from the liberal approach with regard to society and politics. According to the Marxism, man is first social and then he is political creature. The man’s life can be perceived in the social setting only, the individual survives as a whole, with family, work-related groups, classes and collectivity as a whole. It is evident that, the connection between individual and social background is very sincere. The mistreatment and tyranny of the other classes in the state is due to the domination and presence of aggressive groups which separated man from the society. The man’s free will is only possible when he has the liberty and until he is not separated from the society and fellow beings. “Man according to Marx, is the totality of his social connections, hence, emancipated society is identical with the emancipated self”’.

Therefore, society can be defined as a living organisms which is in continuous development of its mode of production. The consistent of individuals is not the society but it’s the inter-relations, and relations with in which stands. The survival of man depends upon the production and distribution of goods and the production makes the society to divide into two adversary classes, the dominant class is the owner by means of production and distribution,

they survives by the marketing of labour power. Hence production is considered as the significant factor in the society and labour is most important part of it. The society depends upon these substructures of production abilities and it further relies on social, political, cultural moral and ideological frameworks of the society.

In this manner, the politics is the study of class relations and class struggles. In this, state is not the agency of public good, it is the device in which dominant class be able to oppress and exploit the dominated class in the society. Political Institutes always talks about the universality and generalization only mask the particularistic and self-centered interests of civil society. The study of the politics is to be scientific then the social and political aspects be considered as extensions of human behaviour. It is because of the politics classes hold power, struggle to inspire the nature of economy, forms of distribution of material wealth, ideology, culture, morality, family and everyday life. The state and politics “are an expression of the economic requirements of state and its social groups”.

The most important characteristic of the Marxian vision of politics must be outlined in its revolutionary appeal. Politics can be expressed by the class of relations, when the classless society is transformed into stateless conditions of the state. When there are no conflicts and the character of the society it becomes classless and no need of state, with this the finally the social development i.e., communism, the meaning of politics would change, insurgency settles the political issue of the power in favour of the working class. Marxism discards the ‘conflict and consensus’ system of politics as highlighted by the liberal writers. The Marxism is mainly based on model of revolution, in politics it is constructed on the evidences of class conflicts and concluding by providing good life to the and liberty to the man. Marxism trusts in a general hypothetical background known as dialectical materialism ad in the materialist understanding of history. Dialectical materialism resulting from materialist understanding of history.

5 Other Approaches to Study of Political Science:

A part from the above approaches there are other approaches which are listed below:

5.1 Traditional Approach:

There are different approaches or methods to study the political science and most of them overlay each other. Traditional Method has a distinct character can be seen as hypothetical and perspective nature. In the modern approaches the political science would be related to the character of science as far as conceivable. The behavioural and other empirical approaches are separate, approaches such as, Structural-functional and input-output approaches, simulation approaches, decision-making approaches etc., others may be treated as the traditional approaches because of their non-scientific approach. Traditional approach can be divided into four groups like, philosophical, historical, institutional and legal approaches.

5.2   Philosophical Approach:

This approach is identified as Speculative, ethical and metaphysical approach, in this the study of government and power of man is linked with certain goals morals and truths most important facts and certainty. The study of political science accepts the speculative character because philosophical refers to thought. Even the works of Plato, Rousseau and others mixed up positive system values with high aims of an ideal social and political order.

With the use of such approach it changes to political philosophy, in which the determinations made to understand the concealed truth. The reality of object is connected with science whereas reality of subject connected to philosophy, eventually, political philosophy is

profounder than pure science. It is criticized because of it is speculative and no concrete and it is away from the reality. The ancient Greek philosophers like Plato and Aristotle found the philosophical solutions to their contemporary social and political problems.

5.3 Historical Approach:

In this approach the focus would be mainly on the historical events related with political approach to understand the institutions, nurture to be, how they come to be, and where they stand. It helps the student understand separate reasons, actions, endeavors failures and contingencies in historical steadiness and variation. It is mainly based on the socio-economic disasters and the reactions of political thinkers. It can be said that, in this approach if one has to understand the political theory, one must certainly understand the time, place and situations in which it developed.

Nevertheless, historical approach undergoes from assured in-built weaknesses. Anyhow the significance of the historical approach cannot be ruled out. It has its prominence while studying the political philosophy one needed to know about the relevance of origin and development of political theory and understanding the political thinkers of those ancient philosophers.

5.4 Legal Approach:

In this approach legal and judicial aspects have been associated with political study by which the government can run its institutions in a proper way.  The law and its related matters are not preserved as the jurisprudence but related to the state matter because it is responsible for the law and order situation. Analytical jurists believes that the state, is the essential institute and observed politics as a science of legal matters, but not similar like science of the state as a social being. Hence, legal approach can be seen state as the main institute for the formation and implementation of law in the state. According to Garner, legal approach, “treats organised society, not as a social or political phenomenon but as a purely judicial regime, as ensemble of public law rights and obligations, founded on the system of pure logic and reason”.

It has very little impact on the behaviour of the political person, it cannot cover the whole aspects because it touches only one aspect of people’s life. Jurists made mistake by assigning every aspect of political system to judicial object.

5.5 Institutional Approach:

In this approach importance has given to the formal structures of political institutions such as, legislature, executive and judicial powers. This can be seen in the political thought of the tinkers from Aristotle to Finer, this approach otherwise can be called as structured approach because stress has been given to the superstructures and infrastructures of the political system.

The important character of this approach is that it enclosed the formal and informal institutional structures of the political system. Thinkers like Walter Bagehot, Ogg, Munro, Bryce and Laski are treated as the prominent writers of this approach. The legal approach has faced criticism in many areas. It disregards the individuals who formed and implement the formal and informal structures and sub-structures of the political system. Another striking point is that, with every scholar the meaning and range of institution varies because of the variance in their thinking. It is also criticized for the unchanging explanation and uninspired analysis of formal political structures process founded on available official sources and records.

However, this approach has some credit due to it is accepted by the structural fundamentalists who have worked and stressed the role of political parties and pressure groups in accumulation and expressing of interest.

5.6 Modern Approach:

Not like the approaches where scientific reasons are not seen but in this approach the study of political science is mainly based on the firsthand or empirical investigation. It really made this approach more scientific and revolutionary expression because it gets the data based on the experimental or firsthand information about the particular situation.

5.7 Behavioural Approach:

The modern approach has made the way for a new approach of behavioural attitude which was focused by the American political scientists. They gave very much importance to the empirical way of investigation where the facts, related to the real or observable behaviour of man as a social and political individual. The term political behaviour embodies about the approach and challenge, an alignment and a reorganization movement and the type of research and debates on behavioural techniques can give more data in clarifying related issues.

Ford Foundation has played a significant role in promoting the behavioural approach with a special attention to make social science useful to the task of human welfare and started committees to understand and recommend political actuality. Hence the behavioural approach is linked with the acts, attitudes, preferences and expectations of men in political environment.