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1. Introduction
Political Theory, subdivision of political science traditionally concerned with the body of ideas expressed by
political philosophers who have asked not only how politics work but how they should work. These
philosophers have been concerned with the nature and justification of political obligation and authority and the
goals of political action. All events and practices which occur within the social sphere have the potential to be
political and hence to be amenable to political analysis. Political science is the academic field that takes as its
sole and general task the analysis of politics, especially the politics of the state. There has been a continuing
debate over the past centuries on how scientific political science should be. Some political scientists think
that politics is so complex and involves such basic personal values that should not try to pin it down to the
exact regularities. This brings fairly to the role of theories in the development of political science as an
academic field., because political science is a social science the interpretation of approaches to its study are
different to those of natural sciences, then approaches had to be made to make the study of political science
easily,, in the study of political science various approaches were made and can be broadly classified as traditional and modern approaches.
The traditional approaches include philosophical, historical and institutional approaches while the modern
approaches include behavioral approach, post-behavioral approaches etc. The studies of political science
have had a lot of research that seeks to achieve scientific knowledge, factual knowledge and formulate
acceptable laws of human behavior in the study of political philosophy. The social structures of communities,
the political heritage of states and the institutional administration of governments have led to the formulation of
traditional and modern day approaches that have been used as foundations of politics as an academic field.
1.1 Definition of terms
Political science: the focus of which is the systematic study of government in its broadest sense. It
encompasses the origins of political regimes; their structures, functions, and institutions; all the ways in which
governments discover and deal with socio-economic problemsfrom dog licensing to diplomacy; and the
interactions of groups and individuals that play a part in establishing, maintaining, and changing
governments.(Microsoft Encarta 2008.)

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2. Traditional approaches
The traditional approaches to Political Science were widely prevalent till the outbreak of the Second World
War. These approaches were mainly related to the traditional view of politics which emphasized the study of
the state and government. Therefore, traditional approaches are primarily concerned with the study of the
organization and activities of the state and principles and the ideas which underlie political organizations and
activities. This study encompasses the need for political scientists to look for empirical evidence when they are
studying or making political decisions. These approaches were normative and idealistic. The political thinkers
advocating these approaches, therefore, raised questions like what should be an ideal state? According to
them the study of Political Science should be confined to the formal structures of the government, laws, rules
and regulations. Thus, the advocates of the traditional approaches emphasize various norms - what ought to
be or should be rather than what is. ((http://www.kkhsou.in/main/kkhandiqui.html)
Although their prescriptions have varied, and some have been utopian in concept, they have shared the
conviction that it is the political philosopher's duty to distinguish between what is and what ought to be,
between existing political institutions and potentially more humane institutions. In the past century,
traditionalists have come to be using an approach to denote descriptive, explanatory, and predictive
generalizations about political behavior regardless of the morality involved. This approach is more concerned
with mathematical, statistical, and quantifiable techniques than with normative concerns. Traditionalists
attempt to study politics in a manner that can be matched with the natural sciences where they use positivism
that seeks scientific knowledge, factual knowledge and formulate laws of human behavior, these scientist have
been seen as anti-historical a good example can be seen in the study of economics which is a social science
but they try to use mathematical equations, graphs, formulas and demand and supply analysis to come to a
conclusion to any situation they are facing. (Microsoft Encarta 2008)
2.1 Characteristics of Traditional approaches
.Traditional approaches are largely normative and stresses on the values of politics
. Emphasis is on the study of different political structures.
.Traditional approaches made very little attempt to relate theory and research
.These approaches believe that since facts and values are closely interlinked, studies in Political
Science can never be scientific (http://www.kkhsou.in/main/kkhandiqui.html)

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2.2 Various forms of Traditional Approach


The traditional approach is "the approach to theorizing that derives from philosophy, history and law, and that
is characterized above all by explicit reliance upon the exercise of judgment and by the assumptions, and thus
the traditional approach can be divided in to the following sub divisions.
2.2.1

Philosophical

This approach is regarded as the oldest approach to the study of Political Science. The emergence of this
approach can be traced back to the times of the Greek philosophers like Plato and Aristotle. Leo Strauss was
one of the main advocates of the philosophical approach. He believes that the philosophy is the quest for
wisdom and political philosophy is the attempt truly to know about the nature of political things and the right or
good political order. This approach firmly believes that the values cannot be separated from the study of
politics. Therefore, its main concern is to judge what is good or bad in any political society, this can be seen
from the philosophers that were subjective in the making of political decisions and the study of the structures
of society to come with rational political decisions. It is mainly an ethical and normative study of politics and,
thus, idealistic. It deals with the problems of the nature and functions of the state, citizenship, rights and duties
etc. The advocates of this approach firmly believe that political philosophy is closely linked with the political
ideologies. Therefore, they are of the opinion that a political scientist must have the knowledge of good life and
good society. Political philosophy helps in setting up of a good political order.
(http://www.kkhsou.in/main/kkhandiqui.html)
So the political philosophy not only justified the need for sociological analysis of governmental and other
official political structures, he unambiguously recognized the importance of the juridical form of state
organisation and the political process, manifestly overstating their role in class formation and the development
of social consciousness and the problem of interaction between society and the state, between the social
system and political institutions.( http://leninist.biz/en/1985)
2.2.2

Historical Approach:

According to the advocates of this approach, political theory can be only understood when the historical factors
like the age, place and the situation in which it is evolved are taken into consideration. As the name of this
approach is related to history, it emphasizes on the study of history of every political reality to analyze any
situation. Political thinkers like Machiavelli, Sabine and Dunning believe that politics and history are intricately
related and the study of politics always should have a historical perspective. This approach strongly upholds

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the belief that the thinking or the ideology of every political thinker is shaped by the surrounding environment.
Moreover, history not only speaks about the past but also links it with the present events. History provides the
chronological order of every political event and thereby helps in future estimation of events also. Hence,
without studying the past political events, institutions and political environment it would be wrong to analyze
the present political scenario/ events. (http://www.kkhsou.in/main/kkhandiqui.html)
2.2.3

Institutional Approach:

This is a very old and important approach to the study of Political Science. This approach mainly deals with the
formal aspects of government and politics emphasizes the study of the political institutions and structures.
Thus, the institutional approach is concerned with the study of the formal structures like legislature, executive,
judiciary, political parties, interest groups etc. the idea of the study of politics through the institutional approach
is mostly driven by several variants that play a part in the political systems of the nation, these can be
observed through the interaction of real political structures interest groups, political parties, mass media and
the stare agencies. The same idea had quite an impact on elaboration of the political development theory
whose proponents focused attention both on the problem of integration the concepts of legitimacy.
(http://leninist.biz/en/1985)
2.2.4

Legal Approach:

This approach regards the state as the fundamental organization for the creation and enforcement of laws.
Therefore, this approach is concerned with the legal process, legal bodies or institutions, justice and
independence of judiciary. The advocates of this approach are Cicero, Jean Bodin, Thomas Hobbes, Jeremy
Bentham, John Austin, Dicey and Sir Henry Maine (http://www.kkhsou.in/main/kkhandiqui.html)

3. MODERN APPROACHES TO THE STUDY OF POLITICAL SCIENCE:


Despite this early call for a completely realistic and independent discipline based on an objective approach
and using the tools of science, the older, library-based, speculative, and normative study of politics remained
standard until the mid-20th century, when the scientific approach finally began to dominate the field. The
experience of academics who returned to the campus after government service in World War II (1939-1945),
had a profound effect on the entire discipline. Employment in agencies polished their skills in applying the
methods of social science, including public opinion surveys, content analysis, statistical techniques, and other
means of collecting and systematically analyzing political data. Having seen first-hand how the game of politics

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is really played, these professors often came back to their research and to college classrooms eager to use
these tools to determine precisely who gets political power in a society, why and how they get it, and what they
do with it.
This movement came to be called Behaviouralism because its proponents insisted that objective observation
and measurement be applied to the full range of human behavior as it manifests itself in the real
world.(Microsoft Encarta 2008. )
3.1 Characteristics of Modern Approaches
3.1.1

.These approaches try to draw conclusion from empirical data.

3.1.2

These approaches go beyond the study of political structures and its historical analysis

3.1.3

Modern Approaches believe in inter-disciplinary study

3.1.4

They emphasize scientific methods of study and attempt to draw scientific conclusions in
Political Science (http://www.kkhsou.in/main/kkhandiqui.html)

3.2 Behaviouralism
Opponents of behaviouralism have maintained that there can be no true science of politics. They contend, for
example, that any form of experimentation in which all the variables are controlled in a political situation is not
legal, ethical, or even possible with human subjects. To this argument, the behaviouralists have replied that
small increments of systematically gathered knowledge will add up, over time, to broad-gauged theories that
can be used to explain human behavior.in other words behavioral political science is an approach to the study
of politics that claims to be more scientific and methodologically sophisticated than the older, so-called
traditional political science. Although the study of politics and government dates back to Plato and Aristotle,
Greek philosophers in the fourth century BCE, political science only emerged as a separate academic
discipline toward the end of the nineteenth century. Since that time, the science of politics has shifted from a
descriptive focus on political history, formal institutions, and legal codes to a more behavioral emphasis upon
decision-making processes, the political behavior of individuals and groups, and their informal relationships.
Methodologically, behavioral political science has replaced the predominantly historical, legalistic, and
institutional studies of the traditional approach with the more empirical methods of modern social science.
(International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences, 2008)

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3.2.1

Main features of behaviorism

Some political scientists developed sophisticated models of human activity to guide their research, frequently
drawing on the basic features and foundations of their research that is mainly guided by the various features of
behaviouralism. These features have been highlighted by David Easton
Regularities This approach believes that there are certain uniformities in political behaviour which can
be expressed in generalizations or theories in order to explain and predict political phenomena. In a
particular situation the political behavior of individuals may be more or less similar. Such regularities of
behaviour may help the researcher to analyze a political situation as well as to predict the future
political phenomena. Study of such regularities makes Political Science more scientific with some
predictive value.
Verification: The behaviouralists do not want to accept everything as granted. Therefore, they
emphasize testing and verifying everything. According to them, what cannot be verified is not
scientific.
Techniques: The behaviouralists put emphasis on the use of those research tools and methods which
generate valid, reliable and comparative data. A researcher must make use of sophisticated tools like
sample surveys, mathematical models, simulation etc.
Quantification: After collecting data, the researcher should measure and quantify those data.
Values: The behaviouralists have put heavy emphasis on separation of facts from values. They
believe that to do objective research one has to be value free. It means that the researcher should not
have any pre-conceived notion or a biased view.
Systematization: According to the behaviouralists research in Political Science must be systematic.
Theory and research should go together.
Pure Science: Another characteristic of behaviouralism has been its aim to make Political Science a
pure science. It believes that the study of Political Science should be verified by evidence.
(http://www.kkhsou.in/main/kkhandiqui.html)
3.3 Post Behaviouralism
By the late 1960s, however, the behavioral mode of inquiry came under heavy attack for its preoccupation with
methodology at the expense of substance and public-policy orientation. Many younger political scientists
criticized the distinction between fact and value, or value-free science, as abstract, sterile, and irrelevant in

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the age of the Vietnam War and the Watergate scandal. Far from being value-free and scientific,
behaviouralism was seen as static, pro-status quo, instilled with conservative values, ethnocentric, and
presenting a highly idealized model of American politics. Behavioral political scientists were accused of
focusing on trivial subjects of inquiry such as analyzing accumulated statistics from elections, public-opinion
surveys, legislative votes, and other easily quantifiable data, while ignoring the great ideological struggles of
the day. The new movement, which the renowned Canadian-born political scientist David Easton called the
postbehavioral revolution, (International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences; 2008)
This new approach emphasizes identifying and solving the major issues of political and social life. According to
post-behaviouralism, the political scientists should find out different alternatives and means to solve the social
problems. Thus, the main thrust of post-behaviouralism has been to make Political Science relevant to the
society. It does not altogether reject the ideas of behaviouralism. It acknowledges the achievement of
behaviouralism and appreciates its effort to do objective research in Political Science
(http://www.kkhsou.in/main/kkhandiqui.html)
3.4 Systems approach
Some political scientists developed sophisticated models of human activity to guide their research, frequently
drawing on computer technology for concepts as well as hardware. The widespread study of politics as a
systemwith inputs, outputs, and feedbackis a major example of the influence of computers on the
discipline of political science.

The general systems theory has done much to improve the notional apparatus of political science, to spell out
important analytical concepts and categories. The political system operates within an environment. The
environment generates demands from different sections of the society such as demand for reservation in the

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matter of employment for certain groups, demand for better working conditions or minimum wages, demand
for better transportation facilities, demand for better health facilities, etc.. Different demands have different
levels of support. Both demands and supports constitute what Easton calls inputs. The political system
receives theses inputs from the environment. After taking various factors into consideration, the government
decides to take action on some of these demands while others are not acted upon. Through the conversion
process, the inputs are converted into outputs by the decision makers in the form of policies, decisions, rules,
regulations and laws. The outputs flow back into the environment through a feedback mechanism, giving rise
to fresh demands. Accordingly, it is a cyclical process. (http://www.kkhsou.in/main/kkhandiqui.html)
4. Conclusion
The application of those methods requires special efforts in constructing extensive yet, at the same time,
sufficiently differentiated logical formations and categories capable of accounting for, classifying and
systematizing available information. It is especially important to operationalize categories typifying the major
Organisational elements and parameters of operation and development of any political system. Political
change itself today and the problems it provokes firmly dictate the search for new methods and approaches
and broaden the range of issues under study, which ultimately means improving the methods of scientific
analysis and extending the subject matter being scrutinized.

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5. References
5.1 .http://www.kkhsou.in/main/kkhandiqui.html
5.2 .International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences; 2008
http://www.encyclopedia.com/International+Encyclopedia+of+the+Social+Sciences/publications.a
spx?pageNumber=1
5.3 .( http://leninist.biz/en/1985)
5.4 Microsoft Encarta 2008. 1993-2007 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.