political science

An academic discipline which studies power and the distribution of power in different types of political systems. Political scientists inquire as to the sources of power, how it is exercised and by whom, how processes of constraint and control operate, who gains and who loses in power struggles. All of these topics raise further issues of political alignment, organization, conflict, and stability within political systems. The study of power takes various forms, from the investigation of individual political attitudes and behaviour, to the examination of state activities at a national and international level. Increasingly, from an initial narrow interest in the machinery of government, political science has broadened its terrain and now overlaps with political sociology in many of its substantive topics and theories. Dennis Kavanagh's Political Science and Political Behaviour (1983) is a good guide to the American and British literature.
In the narrow sense, the study of politics and power involves an examination of the various political institutions, such as the state, government, political parties , interest groups , and other non-government intermediary organizations active in the business of policy-making. The state, in particular, has been the subject of much attention since it dominates the political process in liberal democracies. However, taking a wider view, the operation of power is not confined exclusively to formal institutions and institutional activities. Rather, power lies also in non-decision-making processes which may lie outside the political system: for example, the power of business groups within capitalist economies is considerable. Political scientists, particularly those engaged in historical and comparative research, are also increasingly interested in the exercise of power across the world economy and in terms of international relations, rather than merely within particular nation-states.

Dictionary of sociology. 2013.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • political science — political scientist. a social science dealing with political institutions and with the principles and conduct of government. [1770 80] * * * Academic discipline concerned with the empirical study of government and politics. Political scientists… …   Universalium

  • political science — n. the science of political institutions, or of the principles, organization, and methods of government political scientist n …   English World dictionary

  • political science — ► NOUN ▪ the study of political activity and behaviour …   English terms dictionary

  • Political science — For the Randy Newman song of the same name, see Political Science (song). Part of the Politics series Politics …   Wikipedia

  • political science — N UNCOUNT Political science is the study of the ways in which political power is acquired and used in a country …   English dictionary

  • political science — politikos mokslai statusas T sritis Politika apibrėžtis Socialinių mokslų kryptis, tyrinėjanti ir aiškinanti politikos reiškinius. Palyginti nauja disciplina; susiformavimas siejamas su mokslo metodo, kaip jį eksplikavo pozityvistai, taikymu… …   Politikos mokslų enciklopedinis žodynas

  • political science — science of politics, study of the structure and methods of governments and political organizations …   English contemporary dictionary

  • political science — (Roget s IV) n. Syn. political economy, science of government, politics, political theory, study of government, government science; see also social science …   English dictionary for students

  • political science — noun Date: 1779 a social science concerned chiefly with the description and analysis of political and especially governmental institutions and processes • political scientist noun …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • political science — noun the study of government of states and other political units (Freq. 1) • Syn: ↑politics, ↑government • Derivationally related forms: ↑political scientist • Topics: ↑government, ↑ …   Useful english dictionary

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