In an effort to expose what exactly political Science and its scientific dimension of enquiry; it is indispensable to have an idea about three dimensions of politics that have been upheld to compete for supremacy in the discipline. Aristotle, Harodl Laswell and David Easton have established some compelling thoughts.
It is largely interpreted that Aristotle in Nicomachean Ethics sees politics as a leveling process where by the flattening of ‘Polis’ takes place in which human beings survive to live in the Polis without any barrier to participation in natural life in the sense that man by nature is a political animal. It means that the polis (city‐state) subsists by nature, human beings are by nature political animals and the polis is by nature superior to the individual life in the nature.
Harold Laswell, the distinguished American political Scientists says Politics is “who gets what when and how”. Obviously it means the study of politics is comprised of a reference to the influence and the influential in the society. Further to the allegory, Laswell again went to define Political Science as the study of shaping and sharing of power. To Lasswell it means that politics is all about the wide dispersal of power a cross a broad specter of variables.
Lasswell, the author of a major study of the distributive consequences of political activity, offer his book the title Politics--Who Gets What, When, and How, here Lasswell defined politics as involving questions as to who gets what, when, and how. So Politics according to Lasswell is concerned with deciding, by official governmental decision-making and action of (a) who in political society entertain what rewards, benefits, and advantages and how much of them they receive; (b) when they receive the benefits, rewards and advantages and (c) the methods by which they receive them in effect.
This is the good definition of politics, and its value is in its extensiveness. A necessary but unstated assumption within it though and that assumption is when there are two or more people the question who get what becomes problematic. Suppose in an imaginary state of nature where one is alone, the choice to climb a tree to pick fruit is not a political decision. But if one more is also nearby and the options that survive are to labour jointly to decide on the fruit, then settle on how to divide them or to seek to pick the fruit covertly or to try to apply lone despotic dominion over the fruit and maintain the other away; then we have politics.
The definitions used by Laswell indicate that admittedly political act is a very broad category in social life. Therefore, the study of politics can also include the social, economic, cultural, personal power relations between different social actors.
David Easton an important Political Scientist of modern age has presented a completely new dimension to the way by which political studies progress towards man and his political act. David He defines politics as the authoritative allocation of values. That means values are allocated by political system for the society that are authoritative and binding on members of the political society. In the book A Framework for Political Analysis uses the term "political system" is used to designate the pattern or system of human inter- actions and relationships in any political society through which authoritative allocations are made and implemented through demand and support system that ultimately result in a kind of output function from the political regime.
In A Systems Analysis of Political Life, Easton once more defines the political system as consisting of "those interactions through which values are authoritatively allocated for a society" based on Input function and Output function. He perceive politics as human activity concerned in the operation or functioning of the political system, activity concerned with authoritative decision-making and action by the government, seemingly decision-making and action resulting in an authoritative allocation of values for the society that are binding on its members.
By the word value; Easton observes any sought-after value in life in the society. A value is any activity, object, goal, idea, principle, or other phenomenon upon which large numbers of people place appreciable value, something which is measured by many individuals and groups within the political community to be desirable, good, useful, rewarding, advantageous, beneficial, or attractive. One set of values may be physical, or material in form that is in the form of property, money or other economic goods, conditions and services. One more set of values may be ethereal that is the values may be ideological, symbolic, cultural, ethical, religious or moral in character at large. Instances of intangible values in contemporary politics include the expressed goals of political activists who assert that they are concerned primarily with social or family issues that they seek mainly to promote and defend social or family values in society.
“Authoritative” implies “official,” which is not repetitive always. By any means, politics certainly existed before humans developed “official” authority, or formal authoritative institutions in time as old as pre-historic periods. To put it another way, that criticism requires reliance on a different definition of politics, but put it other way that those behaviors that we frequently consider political pre-date the invention of formal authoritative social institutions.
In short Political science is such a wide ranging and systematically organised knowledge system that there is some reservation about what the core of political science is all about, or whether Political Science even has a founding theme. Many people will have differing positions about it. A long time ago the discipline was with reference to law and government in classical writings. For instances; Aristotle was about to think ‘Polis’ that is city-state. Later Machiavelli was about to think the Prince that is concerned with the affairs of State and subject. Then it came to embrace the study of social movements. Later it came to include the study of the effectiveness of policy. By modern time, it was about voting, democracy, decision-making and rational choice. Eventually the discipline developed a rich and vibrant vocabulary, analytical category and variables by which social interaction can be studied interpreted and understood in systematic way in a given social system. Now it has come to include the advancing psychology of social interaction.
More obviously the study of all politics is the study of power relations surfacing between different social groups. Power is at the centre of all political acts. Power therefore floats up in all human relation and interaction. Power reflects in between father and mother, parents and children, family and society, different social classes, groups, communities, citizen and governments, human beings and other animals, people and eco-system, environment and consumption, market and individual, governments of the world, leaders and followers, ideologies and its supporters and a plethora of human act thereby make sense of politics by some means.
Now it is very interesting to see that whether these concerns of political studies that are power endowed can be explored through scientific methods. As has been stated, Political studies are very much based on all knowledge system that is based on assumption, perception, measurements and yardsticks. The political studies can be the subject of methodical and dependable knowledge, according to the standards of what is usually called “science in modern times (Colomer, 2 0 11).” Political enquiries are very much scientific, systematic and what may be called “Science”.
The classical thinking based on the Greek methods, later elaborated through renaissance, enlightenment, scientific temperament, twentieth century scientific progress and twenty first century technological sophistication; Political Science is very much a scientific way of understanding the complex problem of power relations in a given context.
The political studies begin all its exploration coated with the Platonic or Aristotelian strategy using either deduction or induction to begin a research. When the research strategy is decided, the broad frame work for the entire knowledge generation will be methodically decided in political enquiry. From a strategy as usual the political enquiry further progress towards an ontology about the human social world either as Objective or Constructive and it presupposes that all human act can be either pre-decided by a grand law that is objective in the sense that it will exist in reality if man know it or not. On the other all human act will be socially constructed and all human act are due to our constant interaction with surrounding.
As the ontology of the political enquiry is decided, the epistemology works for the enquiry; it can be either positivism or phenomenology. Through an empiricist platform or through an interpretive paradigm, the scientific study of all political enquiry can work towards a methodology- Qualitative or Quantitative.
In short, from research strategy to methodology and methods all political enquiry can progress towards a predictable knowledge that can be reliable, accumulative, systematic, replicate, predictable, and admittedly what may be called a “Science of Politics”.
For instances, just see the ad column of a real estate builder in their colourful brochure where one might see the sketch of the Villa we are attracted. But let us attempt to find the car porch and see what brand is placed in the porch. Probably BMW or Audi or Mercedes that even if one is struggling to purchase the Villa cannot buy such a brand. So a theme is born unintentionally in our mind and that a third force is negotiating with our wisdom which Vance Packard (1957) views that advertisers trying to manipulate consumer expectations and induce desire for products and more particularly in the American postwar era that he seems to observe as a kind of power which even design our very wants and thoughts. A power is negotiating with us probably invisible and amorphous but that is too cultural. This can be explored but what method we use may differ from person to person.
Obviously, political studies are scientific understanding of human act in a political context. It largely draws on propositions, concepts, variables, categories, hypotheses, quantitative measurements, generalizations, empirical tests, models etc. Obviously, political studies use ‘science’ as one among many of its mode enquiries.
David Easton, 1953,The Political System: An Inquiry into the State of Political Science, New York: Alfred A.
David Easton, 1965, A Framework for Political Analysis, Prentice-Hall, Inc.
David Easton, 1965, A Systems Analysis of Political Life,New York : John Wiley and Sons, Inc.
Colomer, Josep M., 2 0 11, The Science of Politics: An Introduction, New York: Oxford University Press. Packard, Oakley Vance, 1957, The Hidden Persuaders, Ig Publishing.