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Political science

Political science is the field concerning the theory and practice of politics and the description and analysis of political systems and political behavior.

Topics in political science include political theory and philosophy, political concepts, political systems and ideology, game theory, psephology (voting systems and electoral behaviour), political economy, geopolitics and political geography, policy studies and public policy analysis, comparative politics, national systems, cross-national political analysis, supranational and intergovernmental politics, globalisation studies, political development, international relations, foreign policy analysis, peace studies, conflict analysis, international law and politics, public administration and local government studies, political psychology, bureaucratic, administrative and judicial behaviour, legislative processes and public law. Political Science also studies power in international relations and the theory of great powers and superpowers.

Political science is methodologically diverse. Approaches to the discipline include classical political philosophy, interpretivism, structuralism, and behavioralism, rationalism, realism, pluralism, and institutionalism. Political science, as one of the social sciences, uses methods and techniques that relate to the kinds of inquiries sought: primary sources such as historical documents and official records, secondary sources such as scholarly journal articles, survey research, statistical analysis, case studies, and model building.
Herbert Baxter Adams is credited with coining the phrase "political science" while teaching history at Johns Hopkins University
While the study of politics in the Western tradition is first found in ancient Greece, political science is a late arrival in terms of social sciences. However, the discipline has a clear set of antecedents such as moral philosophy, political philosophy, political economy, history, and other fields concerned with normative determinations of what ought to be and with deducing the characteristics and functions of the ideal state. In each historic period and in almost every geographic area, we can find someone studying politics and increasing political understanding.
In ancient India, the antecedents of politics can be traced back to the Rig-Veda, Samhitas, Brahmanas, and Buddhist Pali Canon. Chanakya (c. 350-275 BC) was a professor of political science at Takshashila University, and later the Prime Minister of Mauryan emperor Chandragupta Maurya. Chanakya is regarded as one of the earliest political thinkers, and is also known as the Indian Machiavelli. He wrote the Arthashastra, which was one of the earliest treatises on political thought, economics and social order, and can be considered a precursor to Machiavelli's The Prince. It discusses monetary and fiscal policies, welfare, international relations, and war strategies in detail, among other topics on political science.
The antecedents of Western politics can also trace their roots back even earlier than Plato and Aristotle, particularly in the works of Homer, Hesiod, Thucydides, Xenophon, and Euripides. Later, Plato analyzed political systems, abstracted their analysis from more literary- and history- oriented studies and applied an approach we would understand as closer to philosophy. Similarly, Aristotle built upon Plato's analysis to include historical empirical evidence in his analysis.
During the rule of Rome, famous historians such as Polybius, Livy and Plutarch documented the rise of the Roman Republic, and the organization and histories of other nations, while statesmen like Julius Caesar, Cicero and others provided us with examples of the politics of the republic and Rome's empire and wars. The study of politics during this age was oriented toward understanding history, understanding methods of governing, and describing the operation of governments.
With the fall of the Roman Empire, there arose a more diffuse arena for political studies. The rise of monotheism and, particularly for the Western tradition, Christianity, brought to light a new space for politics and political action. During the Middle Ages, the study of politics was widespread in the churches and courts. Works such as Augustine of Hippo's The City of God synthesized current philosophies and political traditions with those of Christianity, redefining the borders between what was religious and what was political. Most of the political questions surrounding the relationship between church and state were clarified and contested in this period.
In the Middle East and later other Islamic areas, works such as the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam and Epic of Kings by Ferdowsi provided evidence of political analysis, while the Islamic Aristotelians such as Avicenna and later Maimonides and Averroes, continued Aristotle's tradition of analysis and empiricism, writing commentaries on Aristotle's works.
During the Italian Renaissance, Niccolò Machiavelli established the emphasis of modern political science on direct empirical observation of political institutions and actors. Later, the expansion of the scientific paradigm during the Enlightenment further pushed the study of politics beyond normative determinations.
The advent of political science as a university discipline is evidenced by the naming of university departments and chairs with the title of political science arising in the 1860s. Integrating political studies of the past into a unified discipline is ongoing, and the history of political science has provided a rich field for the growth of both normative and positive political science, with each part of the discipline sharing some historical predecessors. The American Political Science Association was founded in 1903 in an effort to distinguish the study of politics from economics and other social phenomena.

In the 1950s and the 1960s, a behavioral revolution stressing the systematic and rigorously scientific study of individual and group behavior swept the discipline. At the same time that political science moved toward greater depth of analysis and more sophistication, it also moved toward a closer working relationship with other disciplines, especially sociology, economics, history, anthropology, psychology, and statistics.[citation needed] Increasingly, students of political behavior have used the scientific method to create an intellectual discipline based on the postulating of hypotheses followed by empirical verification and the inference of political trends, and of generalizations that explain individual and group political actions. Over the past generation, the discipline placed an increasing emphasis on relevance, or the use of new approaches and methodologies to solve political and social problems. Sociologists are interested in political science.

Political scientists study the allocation and transfer of power in decision-making, the roles and systems of governance including governments and international organizations, political behavior and public policies. They measure the success of governance and specific policies by examining many factors, including stability, justice, material wealth, and peace. Some political scientists seek to advance positive theses by analyzing politics. Others advance normative theses, by making specific policy recommendations.
The study of politics is complicated by the frequent involvement of political scientists in the political process, since their teachings often provide the frameworks within which other commentators, such as journalists, special interest groups, politicians, and the electorate analyze issues and select options. Political scientists may serve as advisors to specific politicians, or even run for office as politicians themselves. Political scientists can be found working in governments, in political parties or as civil servants. They may be involved with non-governmental organizations (NGOs) or political movements. In a variety of capacities, people educated and trained in political science can add value and expertise to corporations. Private enterprises such as think tanks, research institutes, polling and public relations firms often employ political scientists. In the United States, political scientists known as "Americanists" look at a variety of data including elections, public opinion and public policy such as Social Security reform, foreign policy, U.S. congressional power, and the Supreme Court—to name only a few issues.
Alternative terms

Alternative terms for the academic study of politics are political studies, or even politics. While political science implies use of the scientific method, political studies implies a broader approach. The term government is used by Dartmouth College, Harvard University, Cornell University, Georgetown University, University of Sydney, University of Ulster, Victoria University of Wellington (which has both a School of Government and a separate Political Science and International Relations Programme) and the London School of Economics and Political Science to describe the field, but the choice of a label for a department often has little to do with how the subject is studied.

External links
Truman State University Political Science Research Design Handbook
See also
List of political scientists
Political science basic topics
Category:Political science books
Category:Political science terms
Public policy
Public policy is a course of action or inaction chosen by public authorities to address a problem. Public policy is expressed in the body of laws, regulations, decisions and actions of government. Policy analysis may be used to formulate public policy and to evaluate its effectiveness. Many public policy analysts earn Master of Public Policy and Master of Public Administration degrees in public policy schools, while others earn specialized degrees, such as an M.Ed for specializing in educational policy or an MSW for specializing in social welfare policy.
Various definitions

According to William Jenkins in Policy Analysis: A Political and Organizational Perspective (1978), a Public Policy is ‘a set of interrelated decisions taken by a political actor or group of actors concerning the selection of goals and the means of achieving them within a specified situation where those decisions should, in principle, be within the power of those actors to achieve’. Thus, Jenkins understands Public Policy making to be a process, and not simply a choice.

According to Thomas A. Birkland in An Introduction to the Policy Process (2001), there is a lack of a consensus on the definition of public policy. Birkland outlines a few definitions of public policy (Table 1.3 on p. 21):

  • Clarke E. Cochran, et al.: "The term public policy always refers to the actions of government and the intentions that determine those actions.
  • Clarke E. Cochran, et al.: "Public policy is the outcome of the struggle in government over who gets what".
  • Thomas Dye: Public policy is "Whatever governments choose to do or not do".
  • Charles L. Cochran and Eloise F. Malone: "Public policy consists of political decisions for implementing programs to achieve societal goals".
  • B. Guy Peters: "Stated most simply, public policy is the sum of government activities, whether acting directly or through agents, as it has an influence on the life of citizens".

Birkland indicates that the elements common to all definitions of public policy are as follows (p. 20):

  • The policy is made in the name of the "public".
  • Policy is generally made or initiated by government.
  • Policy is interpreted and implemented by public and private actors.
  • Policy is what the government intends to do.
  • Policy is what the government chooses not to do.
History of public policy

According to Birkland:

While the study of politics has a long history, the systematic study of public policy, on the other hand, can be said to be a twentieth century creation. It dates, according to Daniel McCool, to 1922, when political scientist Charles Merriam sought to connect the theory and practices of politics to understanding the actual activities of government, that is public policy." (p.4) (see McCool, Daniel C. Public Policy Theories, Models, and Concepts: An Anthology. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice Hall, 1995.)

Types of public policy
Crime policy Domestic policy
Education policy Energy policy
Environmental Policy Foreign policy
Healthcare policy National defense policy
Public policy (law) Sex Policy
Social policy Social welfare policy
See also
HUD USER Political science
Program evaluation Public administration
Public health Public services
Regulatory Barriers Clearinghouse Social contract
Social welfare Social work
External links
RAND Corporation
National Association of Schools of Public Affairs and Administration - Clearinghouse for Canadian Public Policy Articles, Organizations and Authors (Canada)
AARP Public Policy Institute (United States)
The Hoover Digest
SPACEPOL Government Policy Consulting (Canada, Nordic Countries)
The Brookings Institute
Global Public Policy Institute
Graduate School of Public Policy, University of Regina
Canadian Policy Research Networks
The Saskatchewan Institute of Public Policy
Institute for Research on Public Policy
Ethics and Public Policy Center
Institue of Local Government Studies, Birmingham, UK
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