Political Science, a branch of the Social Sciences, has traditionally been defined to be a study of the state and its various institutions. This branch utilises a systematic approach to study the governance by the use of scientific analytical methods.
In the contemporary world, however, Political Science encompasses much more. This branch of study now involves the study of cultural, societal as well as psychological factors that are found to have a mutual influence on the body politic and the functioning of the government.
Distinction from Other Social Sciences
The focus of Political Science is mainly on power and this is what makes it distinct from the other social sciences. Power can be said to be any political factor that exerts a higher command on other political factors be it in regional, national or even international levels of organisation.
Often confused with political philosophy, which mainly concerns itself with political values and ideas such as freedom, justice, rights and political obligations, one must take note of the fact that these two fields are very distinct. Political Science, rather, studies the institutions and their behaviour. It is more inclined towards establishing theories and drawing conclusions based analytical studies using empirical methods where observations are expressed in quantitative terms as possible. While the approach of political philosophy is normative, political science relies on a more descriptive approach.
Fields of Political Science
Political Science, in itself, is a vast entity, which is why it has been categorised into various fields, to allow for a more scientific approach in its study. The various fields of political science include:
Political Theory: This mainly includes the more classical political philosophy as well as the theoretical perspectives which are more contemporary.
Domestic Politics: This field encompasses national government, local governments, elections and public opinion.
Comparative Politics: The focus of this field is on politics within countries and analyses the differences and similarities.
International Relations: The political interactions and relationships between different countries are studied in this field.
Public Law: This field deals with the study of civil rights, constitutions, legal systems, criminal justice, etc.
Public Policy: This field oversees the pathway as well as the implementation of the various types of government policies.
Public Administration: The role of bureaucracy is particularly studied in this field.