Uploaded by Percy TaQunta Tsangamidzi


By Tawiez
– Political science involves the study of the theory of politics, political analysis and political
– It is the study of political relationships thus it is the science of politics or the use of scientific
methods to study politics
– Overlaps with other disciplines especially public administration-, public policy, law, history and
– A person who studies politics is a political scientist and should not be confused with a
– A political scientist seeks to acquire knowledge of politics through enquiry mainly through
systematic inquiry , like any other social science political science seeks to study human
behaviour through the use of scientific methods which prompt objections and debate
– The discipline of political science is divided into 3 sub disciplines ie political philosophy
(normative issues gvt,law), comparative politics (different systems ie constitution, political
actors, legislature)and international relations
– It is rooted in ancient political philosophers i.e. the work of Greek authors Plato and Aristotle
– Many scholars regard Aristotle as the first political scientist
– He designed Political science as the struggle of the state
– Wrote about the nature of politics and defined different
political systems and designed a scheme for classifying
– For him political science was synonymous with political
– It is the process through which people interact with one another
– This interaction maybe in the context of a school, church, business,
trade union, political party, civic association etc
– It involves the actions of governments and states
– Whilst it might be very challenging to give an exact meaning of
politics, it is believed that this subject is linked to the phenomena of
conflict and co-operation.
– By conflict it implies competition between opposing forces, reflecting
a diversity of opinions, preferences, needs or interests. On the other
hand co-operation entails working together, achieving goals through
collective action.
– It is a social process which involves four major dimensions :
1. two or more people interacting
2. in doing so they take into consideration how others
may react
3.sometimes they act together in pursuit of
common goals
4.at other times their interests clash and they get into
– Aristotle’s definition as Master’s Science Politics is the process of accommodating
diverse interests in a community
– In his book titled “Politics” Aristotle defined different forms of authority
– He argued that every political association is characterised by the existence of
authority or rule
– He distinguished between the authority of a political leader in a political association
or what he termed “polis” and the other forms of authority such as that of a master
over his slave, husband/wife, parent/child
– Since the time of Aristotle, political science students have shared the view that a
political relationship is characterised by authority power and influence
– Aristotle defines it as “Master’s Science.” Distilled from these definition is that
politics involves any human interaction that is characterised by the use of power,
authority, influence, control, rule, love, mutual beliefs and mutual respect. As
Aristotle argues, it is through politics that the totality of social existence is
Views of Modern Political
Max Weber
He regards a relationship as political “if and in so far as the enforcement of its order is carried out
continually within a given territorial area by the threat on the part of administrative staff
Regards territorial aspect as essential to a political relationship but emphasises the importance of authority,
rule and political association
Harold Lasswell
He defines politics as who gets what, when and how
Defines political science as an empirical discipline
The study of the shaping and sharing of power
David Easton
Defines politics as the authoritative allocation of values
Robert Dahl
Defines a political system as a persistent pattern of human relationships that involves to a significant extent
control, influence, power or authority
He further reiterates that political analysis deals with power, rule and authority
– Dahl’s definition of politics overlooks the motives of the people eg
leaders may possess a desire to rule others, exercise authority to rule
over them or engage in struggles for power but people may exercise
power on others even of they don’t pursue power
– People who seek power may not acquire it
– At the highest level of society politicians shape the destiny of mankind
as they make rulings that are binding on people
– The most basic idea is that politics involves decision making among
people in a large group and these decisions involve influence and
– Politics then is the process of making collective decisions in a
community, society or group through the application of power and
The Ubiquity of Politics
– Human involvement in politics is inevitable and the same
applies to the consequences of politics which is that every
polis has a political aspect eg a government being referred
to as corrupt, democratic or authoritarian
– In addition we speak of politics or politicking as giving in to
these political associations
– This leads to the observation that politics is ubiquitous
– Ubiquity is the state of being everywhere, especially at the
same time, omnipresence
– The term politics refers to a specific category of human activities
– These activities take place within an organised grouping of individuals
i.e the state as well as its local original sub divisions, state institutions,
executive state agencies, political parties, economic enterprises,
religious organisations, labour unions, university faculties, youth
associations etc. this makes the case of ubiquity of politics
– Thomas Mann (1875-1955)- a German scholar, further cements that
every intellectual attitude is latently political. At the nerve-centre of
politics is to regulate human behaviour in a way to preserve order in
a society given that man is naturally selfish. Precisely, politics is the
ultimate controller of the entire universe
– The interaction of people is necessitated by two major desires operating at extreme
– These are (i) the need for co-operation (ii) as a result of conflicting interests. It is out
of these forces that man indulges in politics voluntarily or non-voluntarily. Thus the
use of power, control, influence, authority etc is witnessed in these circumstances as
an instrument of regulating human behaviour.
– when two or more people interact, it automatically becomes politics. It must be
noted that politics is at the highest level of human interaction thereby shaping the
destiny of human population
– the ubiquity of politics is epitomised through critical appraisal of human interactions
in a bid to appreciate the extent to which the key aspects of politics are utilised
towards moulding human behaviour to work towards achieving a common goal. In
this regard, admitting that decision making is at the apex level of humankind, the
ubiquity of politics must not be questioned as long as two or more people are
interdependent to each other
– Human activities are designed to pursue certain objectives
and to obtain certain values/ resources
– Those engaging in certain activities seek to attain their
goals by using tactics calculated to shape policies by
maximising their influence and power potential
Why Study Politics
– The main purpose of studying politics is the construction of general
principles about the way the world of politics works
– Scholars analyse politics either out of curiosity that is to analyse
events in order to know or to enable decision making from the
options available
– The reasons why scholars study politics are as follows
Self interest
– The manner in which the government works or fails to and meets or
fails to meet citizen’s demands is of considerable individual interest.
University students therefore take a keen interest in matters that are
of considerable political significance to them eg grant policies,
subsidies with public education, court decisions that protect or fail to
protect students rights etc
– The study of politics therefore enables an individual to understand his or her
dependants in the political system
– Study also exposes the limits of politics and people’s ability to achieve change
through politics
2. Self Improvement
– The study of politics is meant bring about moral growth that is self improvement of
the individual
– Politics is about decisions and those who make them thus they should be subjected
to critical examination, this accounts for the rigorous nature of the discipline of
political science
– Students are trained to be sceptical of what they read and hear because people who
make political views and those who report are not always objective
– The political system is overwhelmed with the flow of information which makes it
necessary to distinguish between the real and the ideal
3. Self Knowledge
– It is essential for the people to know who they are in terms
of moral character and conduct and individuals moral
disposition is informed by and reflected by the everyday
decisions or choices he or she makes
– Politics which can be defined as the manner in which
human beings govern and are governed can be a decisive
factor in the moral development of all citizens.
– Scholars have debated endlessly about how politics would be
studied for a long time was considered to fall within the same
field as philosophy, history and law
– This view shifted in the late 19th century when an attempt was
initiated to make the study of politics scientific
– There was a shift in emphasis of political laws to political
behaviour this shift is known as behavioural evolution
(behaviouralism) however of late emphasis of values has been
dominant in the study of politics
– This has been caused by the realisation that the scientific
approach is useful to the study of politics
What is Science?
– Science has different types and meanings in history, the
original meaning of the term science is knowledge or more
precisely knowledge gained by study
– It is the method of learning based on systematic
observation using the scientific method
– Science can be used to name reality by means of a scientific method, it is a set of
procedures for gathering information premised on epistemological assumptions
therefore science is premised on understanding the truth
– To understand how science reveals the truth we can use the 1971 Zimbardo
experiment whereby Professor Zimbardo he wanted to ascertain the truth that
authority has influence over actions towards others. University students embarked
on the 2 weeks experiment where they were in a prison setup and other were tasked
as prisoners and others guards, as the experiment progressed the guards began
using their authority for inhumane treatment
– At the end science revealed uncomfortable truths about human psychology, truths
relevant to both citizens and political leaders struggling to understand the nature of
– According to Zimbardo science can provide reliable info about the case with which
power can be abused by otherwise good people
– Our knowledge of this world we live is in two categories
that is facts and values
– Values can be reduced to emotional responses conditioned
by the individual’s total life experiences, values are norms
that is what ought to be
– Facts refer to a part of reality hence it can be tested by
reference to facts and can be used to check its truth, a fact
is part of reality ie what is not what ought to be
– Social scientists talk of fact social value dualism and according
to David Easton facts are derived from reality and he regards
values as emotional responses caused by life’s experiences
– Values portray individual moral interpretation of whether real
or false, people combine values in statements to convoy the
essence of values
– Values are based on morality and the actions of human beings
are motivated by self interest but also pursue common good
– The importance of acts of good will is valued more qualitative
than quantitative because they cant be empirically verified or
– The scientists are concerned with the study of how, what and
how things work as they do rather than why they should work
like that (ought to or ought not to). It is politics makes sense
when is factual (full of proof). e.g 85% of the Zimbabweans
are not in favour of the issue of gay rights to be included in
the constitution
– The fact seeks to answer observable political phenomena in
scientific sense.
– On the other hand, the Value addresses bigger questions that
are difficult to measure but critical to the understanding of
– The value is about understanding human interaction based
on norms, values which are respected by a society as a
whole (Varma 1975, Roskin 1991).
– only focused on immeasurable political phenomena
(values, norms, culture whose understanding is within
human cognition (addressing bigger question in politics
[why, how] which require commentaries
– focuses is on factual data which describe the existential
world. it is data supported by evidence. The knowledge
can be tested for consistence and truth.eg Zanu PF will win
elections resoundingly next year. Evidence must be
produced to make this claim authentic.{through surveys
etc}. Thus it separates facts from value
– it presupposes that human behaviour is predictive, and
therefore one can project his behaviour of tomorrow.
[Those who voted for MDC in 2008 will still vote for that
party in the next elections scheduled for 2018]
– The appropriate method to be used in enquiry is
determined by the nature of the subject in question e.g
why people vote the way they do, which form of
government is the best, how rulers can be made
accountable for their actions etc
– Science can help us resolve all these problems but the
problems depend on the subject nature, the questions
asked and the answers fall into two categories that is the
normative approach and the empirical approach
– Its of reality that is the world we touch, taste, feel, hear and
– Concerned with the behaviour of individuals as they
participate in the political process and institutions in society
– Seeks to provide an explanation and understanding of political
– Provides us with knowledge and gives us the power to change
our environment
– However the theory does not provide us with objectives or
wisdom, it cant provide answers to questions about objectives
nomatter how advanced
– Involves the allocation, interpretation and explanation of
facts about the political world as well as the prediction of
political processes
– Starts with what we know from experience to what we do
not know, it is on this basis that theories are postulated
– Scholars continuously verify theories that is they seek to
falsify or validate theories in doing so they use different
tools and techniques depending on the nature of the
subject in question
– Acquires information by investigation
– Oriented to keep people’s hope, thoughts, aspirations dreams
and values
– Deals with the moral reasons however man’s dreams and
aspirations are not the subject matter of normative theory
– Instead it examines what hopes, aspirations, dreams and
values man ought to have
– What ought to be defines normativism
– Acquires knowledge by reflection
– Concerned with the objectives, governments ought to serve
the obligations of the citizens
– Deals with issues of morality eg is it justifiable to violate
the law by crossing a red robot, should a citizen refuse to
do national duties
– Most objections on moral grounds are based on normative
theory eg someone might be objected by a law because it
violates the constitution
– Some scholars reject normative theory and claim that one
cannot accept what that you ought or ought not to have
done that
– They claim that ought not is a meaningless term
– Others believe that normative questions are not the proper
concern of political science and consider such questions as
inappropriate for reasoning
– Hypothesis deduction, observation, experiment do not
address normative problems
– Normative theory in P.S is a branch of ethical theory
Value-laden- believes in norms, values,
aspirations and ethical considerations in a
given polity
Prescriptive- [ought to and ought not to]
conclusions about politic were based on
propositions, not exact
Qualitative- only focused on immeasurable
political phenomena (values, norms,
culture whose understanding is within
human cognition (addressing bigger
question in politics [why, how]
Subjective- the study was purely based on
one’s line of thinking
Factuality- focuses is on factual data which describe the
existential world. it is data supported by evidence
Quantitative- treats only numerical data that is easy to analyse
and generalised, seeks to answer the what, which, who questions
of politics which are factual in nature. Uses scientific protocols
Objectivity- knowledge about politics should be neutral, free
form human bias. The methods followed should be standardised
to arrive at an objective conclusion pertaining to reality.
Descriptive -rejects prescriptive statements as serving no
purpose at all. Ought to and ought not to is based on proposition
hence failing to address the exact meaning of reality
Predictive- it presupposes that human behaviour is predictive,
and therefore one can project his behaviour of tomorrow
Power, Influence, Authority, Control
– The study of P.S requires that we define politics in terms of
political power, influence and authority
– Many P.S consider power as underpining the phenomenon
of politics
What is Power
– The ability or capacity to make someone act in your own wish, assuming
this is different from his or her initial intention with the use of threat
and/or sanction (Shively 1997).
Power is the ability to shape and control the political behaviour of others
and to lead and guide their behaviour in the direction desired by the
person, group, or institution wielding the political power.
– Political power is the capacity to influence, condition, mould, and control
human behaviour for the accomplishment of political objectives.
– That is to say, political power is the ability of one political actor--e.g., an
individual citizen, a family, an interest group, a political action committee,
a political party, or the government--to effect a desired change in the
behaviour of other political actors, persuading or forcing the latter to act
in a manner they would not act in the absence of the former's impact on
the situation.
– Why do leaders need power? To maintain law and order in
a society which is a crucial component for a society to run
– How do leaders acquire power? Pol power is derived from
military control underlying the leader
– Who exercises power? Power is held by a person or group
in society
– There are many ways to hold such power eg officially
political power is held by the state or political leader eg
president, PM
– Power uses coercion, an actor can use coercion to gain
– Power relations occur in all political processes irrespective
of how democratic they maybe
– No ruler can survive without significant support from the
masses thus rulers resort to use of power to gain support
– The exercise of power involves a lot of manoeuvring, it
involves the use of persuasion rather than the issuing of
– For a leader to have power his decision making should
support popular demand
– Lord Acton in 1887 argued that power tends to corrupt and
absolute power corrupts absolutely, great men are almost
always bad men
Classification of power
– Power can be classified into 3 analytical categories that is condign power,
compensatory power and conditional power
Condign Power
– It uses force and is coercive
– Exercises the threat of application of sanctions or use of physical or coercive force
e.g. when a teacher uses a stick to get a student to pay attention
– In more backward societies this kind of power is common
– Wins submission by the ability to impose an alternative to the preferences of the
individual or group that is unpleasant or painful so that the preferences will be
– Involves the use of threats and punishment
Compensatory Power
– It is utilitarian or artificial in nature as it involves the allocation of material resources
such as goods and services
– Characterised by the promise of rewards in order to get people to comply to certain
– Wins submission by giving something of value
– Wealth has been a source of power throughout history
– Inequality is a major drive of power in politics, big man small boy syndrome
– This is the relationship between the developing countries and the developed world,
eg Malawi adopted gay rights and in return was promised foreign aid this is
compensatory power which is mostly used by the super powers to influence policies
in less developed countries
– Involves patronage and patriotism
– Can be in the form of land, work eg Norton By elections where people were
promised stands
Conditional power
– Exercised by changing belief
– Persuasion, education or the social commitment to what
seems natural, proper or right causes the individual to submit
to the will of another
– It is central to the functioning of the modern economy and
– Can be in the form of culture, religion the submission is
considered to be standard
– Causes individuals to submit eg 2013 elections Mugabe went
to the apostolic sect to gain submission through changing
Political Authority
– Political authority is governmental power, the formal-legal authority
of the public officeholders and institutions comprising the
government to make and carry out decisions on public policy--to
adopt and implement the authoritative decisions that have the force
of law and are binding on all members of the society.
– Political authority is the legally established power of the government
to make rules and issue commands and to compel obedience to them,
making use of physical force and coercion when deemed necessary.
– Political authority, in short, is the legal right--the legally established
power--to govern society. The political authority exercised by a
government may be legitimate or illegitimate
Legitimate Authority
– When an individual or community is said to have authority, the reason
that justifies this authority is known as legitimacy ie recognition of
right of an individual or group to rule
– The most common legitimate procedure in modern world is the
holding of free and fair elections
– If the political authority exercised by a government is willingly and
widely accepted by the population comprising the society the
government endeavours to control, that government will not have to
rely entirely or almost entirely on naked force to maintain order and
obtain compliance with its decisions.
– Under these conditions, the authority exercised by the government is
legitimate, and the government itself is legitimate.
– Legitimate political authority, in short, is governmental power
based on political legitimacy.
– Political legitimacy exists in a political community, or society,
when most citizens (1) perceive the government as having the
moral as well as legal right to make and enforce decisions
binding on the whole community, (2) see the decisions
themselves as being legitimate, and (3) consider it the duty of
all citizens to voluntarily comply with these decisions, thereby
substantially reducing the government's need to employ
armed force or expend other resources to compel or induce
Types of Authority by Max
– Traditional Authority: This is hereditary form of authority. The
use of authority is empowered through genes, biological,
family hood e.g. monarchy and traditional chiefs in rural areas.
– Rational-Legal Authority: Authority is derived from clearly
agreed laid down rules and regulation. e.g leadership based on
– Charismatic Authority: the ability to give orders and getting
respect and obedience is based on outstanding personal
leadership qualities such as weight, height, stature; bravery etc
examples include Hitler, Mussolini, Mother Theresa, Margret
Thatcher, and Mandela
– Is it possible to possess power without authority? Yes
there are org that have power but not authority eg the
mafia which exercises power by sanctions using violence or
force, status, education
– Although it is possible to exercise power without authority
such situations are unsuitable because rulers without
authority are obliged to rely on the use of coersion
– Is it possible to possess authority without power? Yes in
cases where rulers are overthrown by coup de tat
– When the leaders of a political interest group, a private
organization, successfully persuade particular members of
Congress to vote a certain way on a pending legislative bill,
when the MCs were not inclined to vote that way in the
absence of interest-group pressure, the leaders of the
interest group are exercising political influence.
Political influence
– Robert Dahl defines influence as a relationship among
actors in which one actor convinces others to not act in a
way they otherwise not
– It is the ability of private individuals or groups to condition
shape or control those who have power and authority
– Such individuals ensure that the government takes into
consideration their need and demands when making policy
– Behavioralism is an approach in political science, which emerged in the 1930s in the
United States.
– - It represents a sharp break from previous political science. This is because it
emphasized an objective, quantified approach to explain and predict political
– - It is associated with the rise of the behavioral sciences, modeled after the natural
sciences. This means that behavioralism claims it can explain political behavior from
an unbiased, neutral point of view.
– -Behavioralism seeks to examine the behavior, actions, and acts of individuals –
rather than the characteristics of institutions such as legislatures, executives, and
judiciaries – and groups in different social settings and explain this behavior as it
relates to the political system.
– -in the 1920s and 1930s, emphasis was put on the importance of examining political
behavior of individuals and groups rather than only considering how they abide by
legal or formal rules.
– Prior to the "behavioralist revolution", political science being a science at all was disputed.
Critics saw the study of politics as being primarily qualitative and normative, and claimed
that it lacked a scientific method necessary to be deemed a science.
– Behavioralists used strict methodology and empirical research to validate their study as a
social science.
– The behavioralist approach was innovative because it changed the attitude of the purpose
of inquiry.
– It moved toward research that was supported by verifiable facts. During its rise in
popularity in the 1960s and 70s, behavioralism challenged the realist and liberal
approaches, which the behavioralists called "traditionalism", and other studies of political
behavior that was not based on fact.
– Traditionalists tried to understand politics by examining laws, governmental offices,
constitutions, and other official institutions associated with politics; they tried to describe
how institutions operated by formal rules and publicly sanctioned procedures.
– Traditionalists often tended to focus on what was going on
inside government as opposed to looking at social and
economic processes in the country.
– Traditionalist approaches were often both historical and
normative: historical in outlining the processes by which the
formal rules of politics were modified over time through court
decisions, laws, executive orders, and the like, and normative
in the sense of hoping to provide information for improving
these rules.
– Although traditionalist approaches are still present in political
science research, additional approaches have supplemented
– To understand political behavior, behavioralism uses the
following methods: sampling, interviewing, scoring and
scaling and statistical analysis.
– Behavioralism studies how individuals behave in group
positions realistically rather than how they should behave.
– The term behaviouralism describes a wide variety of people
and it refers to different assumptions, methods and
techniques that are associated with political behaviour
– it seeks to examine the behaviour, actions and acts of
individuals rather than the characteristics of institutions
such as legislature, executive and judiciary
– The salient characteristics of the political behaviour
movement where:
– It rejected institutions as a basic unit of analysis
– It emphasised unit of the social sciences and applied
behavioural sciences to describe this unit
– Advocated for greater procession in the observation,
statistical classification and measurement of data
– Urged the use of quantitative techniques and statistics
– Dismissed the normative approach as being irrelevant to PS
– Defined the objective of PS as the construction of a
systematic empirical theory
– Preoccupied with the systematic observation of the actual
behaviour of man in the political system
– This approach had been used by previous political thinkers
such as St Augustine, Hobbes, Rosseau to study human
actions what was new was the application of statistical
methods to sample large populations
Major tenets of
– Studies human behaviour scientifically
– Deals with observation in human behaviour
– Focuses on actions and consequences of those actions rather than
studying the whole process
– Deals with causes and effects
– Dismiss normative approach and use empirical approach
– Uses sampling, interviewing, scaling and statistical analysis
– Came as a reaction to the traditional approach of enquiry
– Value free, pure science
– Behaviourism presupposes the actions of an individual occur as
responses to stimuli.
Thus behaviourism is a movement in political science which insists on analysing the observable behaviour of political
Behind this movement was a great emphasis on
Focus of study (human behaviour – placing man at the root of politics and hence to be studied/ observed directly as
he/she behaves- hence behavioralism.
Methodology- scientific methods are more sophisticated to provide precise data.
The eight key intellectual foundation stones of behaviourism by Easton
Regularities and uniformities
Fact-value dichotomy
Commitment to Verification in political enquiry
High sense of Professionalism in the study of politics
Systemization of the political enquiry
Greater precision in the measurement, analysis and generalisation of data in political science.
– The key blocks of behaviourism explained
– David Easton defined/identified eight “intellectual foundation stones” of
– REGULARITIES and UNIFORMITIES (the generalisations and explanation of
– The behaviourists believe that there are certain discernible uniformities in
political behaviour which can be expressed in generalisations or theories
which are capable of explaining and predicting political behaviour
– Commitment to VERIFICATION (The ability to verify theories
– Behaviourists believe that for knowledge to be valid, it should consists of
propositions that have been subjected to empirical tests and that all
evidence must be based on observation. This is hypothesis testing
QUANTIFICATION- (Express results in numbers where possible or meaningful)
Emphasis is on measurement and quantification.
FACTUALITY (Fact- Value Dichotomy) keeping ethical assessment and empirical explanations distinct
This relates to a controversy over value -neutrality between the traditionalists and the behaviouralists. According to the behaviourists values and
facts are two separate things and should be kept analytically distinct. They must be studied separately or even in combination but should not be
mixed with the other.. For scientific inquiry to be objective it should be value free. The researcher must keep his values aloof from his study.
Systemization of the political inquiry close relationship between theory and research
TECHNIQUES. Means for acquiring and interpreting data
High level/ sense of professionalism in the study of politics - firmly founded on the strong conviction among traditional scholars that political
science could and should be a scholarly enterprise characterised by skills, commitment, methods and findings that are falsifiable
Greater precision in the observation, classification and measurement of quantifiable data.
– According to Easton- Behaviourism sought to be analytical not
substantive, general not particular, explanatory not ethical.
– It seeks to evaluate political behaviour without ethical evaluations,
their insistence on distinguishing between facts and values has made
the discipline shallow and limited in scope.
– -The approach has come under fire for the purported value neutrality
(the distinction between values and facts which was viewed as a way
of undermining the possibility of political philosophy. Precisely the
approach dismisses the task of ethical recommendation since it
believes in truth or falsity of values (equality, democracy and freedom
etc.) cannot be established scientifically and are beyond the scope of
the legitimate enquiry
– Christian Bay believed behaviourism was a pseudo political science
and that it did not represent “genuine” political science. Bay objected
to empirical consideration taking precedence over normative and
moral examination of politics
– -Moreover radical critics point out that the separation of fact from
value makes the empirical study of politics impossible thereby making
the discipline of political science narrow in scope. It is widely rejected
by social scientists who note that it oversimplifies human behaviour
and takes no account of the mental processes involved in the
perception of and response to a stimulus.
– -It neglects all the aspects of human behaviour which cannot be easily
– It is a critic of behaviouralism
– During the 1960s there was considerable dissatisfaction with research teaching that
turned politics into a vigorously scientific discipline
– Postbehavioralism is an alternative to both traditionalism and behavioralism. In
– 1969, David Easton announced that a postbehavioral orientation had arrived in
political science.
– What had inspired it? Easton was very explicit in his answer: Postbehavioralism
emerged as a reaction against the empirical orientation of behavioralism by political
scientists who found such an orientation excessive and irresponsible.
– Empiricism, if taken to the extremes of denying the importance of values and ethics
and encouraging a narrowing of research questions to only those matters selfevidently observable, could undermine political science.
– In such cases, postbehavioralists warned, political science
would produce data that were scientifi cally reliable
(empirically observed) but irrelevant.
– Moreover, postbehavioralists asserted that behavioralism is
not truly value free because it implicitly affi rms that
understanding comes from observation, not ethical
– behavioralism values the observable and devalues the
unobservable. Thus, if the postbehavioralists are correct,
behavioralism is as normative as traditionalism
– Post behavioralists argue that political science should be
relevant as well as empirically reliable, and that the
information produced by political science has ethical
– Easton tried to remind political scientists that political
phenomena were often matters of life and death—matters
pertaining to war, population growth, environmental
degradation, and racial and ethnic conflict.
– Political scientists have a responsibility to acknowledge that
what they choose to investigate through the empirical
methods of political science and what they discover by means
of these methods affect the lives of women and men.
– It is the study of how governments, political groups,
political figures and citizenship vary across countries or
time periods
– Refers to the study of a broad range of political activities
including governments, their institutions and other groups
that are not directly related to national governments eg
ethnic groups, communities, associations
– It studies political systems and institutions by comparing
them with others
– It seeks to identify similarities and differences between
different countries, learn about trends and processes of
political systems and create a hypothesis to explain these
– There are many different approaches to comparative
politics and four are most commonly used and these are:
political systems, structure, function and structural
– In other words comparative politics is the study of the domestic politics,
political institutions, and conflicts of countries.
– It often involves comparisons among countries and through time within
single countries, emphasizing key patterns of similarity and difference
– When applied to specific fields of study, comparative politics may be
referred to by other names, such as for example comparative government
(the comparative study of forms of government) or comparative foreign
policy (comparing the foreign policies of different States in order to
establish general empirical connections between the characteristics of the
State and the characteristics of its foreign policy).
– i.e. to establish relationships among two or more empirical variables or
concepts while all other variables are held constant.
– The term comparative approach is a term to denote the
process of comparing political system in terms of their
similarities and dissimilarities between two or more formal
and informal institutions.
– The primary aim of comparative politics is to solve pressing
societal problems such as corruption, over population,
rapid urbanisation, starvation and natural disasters.
– The political systems compared may include electoral
process, bureaucratic system, presidential and
parliamentary systems and judiciary systems.
Some major works in comparative politics
1. Nature of Regime
Aristotelian Rule
Number of RulersSocial Group
in the General Interest Rule in Self Interest
Number of Rulers
Democracy (polity)
Ochlocracy (Mob rule)
The Poor (All)
More Contemporary Classification:
– Democracies: Public has a role in decision-making. Rights
and freedoms are protected. [This is our first, basic
definition. We will expand later.]
– Authoritarian: Public's right to participate in government
limited. Rights and freedoms likewise limited.
– Another term: Totalitarian: State pervades all aspects of
society. Often a transformational ideology asserted by the
regime and force used (Communists/Nazis). No opposition
2. Political Culture
– According to scholar Michael Curtis: "Community-held
beliefs, feelings, and values that influence political
behavior" transmitted through socialization (family, media,
– US v. Singapore political culture (groups/individuals,
elites/hierarchy and equality, democracy/paternalism,
desire for participation/desire to be cared for)
– Modern: Complex governmental structure, legitimacy of
the system based on a secular and rational view of the right
to govern, widening of political participation, government
able to manage tensions, implement policy, stable system.
– Charismatic: Often seen as countries transition from more
traditional to modern arrangements. Charisma mobilizes,
enthuses. But, rarely can a charismatic regime outlast
– Traditional: Clan, elders, lineage, tribal chiefs
– Developed: high incomes and education levels, high literacy,
long life spans, industrialized, importance of services in the
economy/decline of agriculture.
– Developing (Less Developed/Third World): lower incomes,
lower literacy levels, importance of agriculture in the
– Special case of the Oil-rich: High incomes and perhaps good
health indicators, but many indicators like developing
countries (low levels of literacy, particularly for women).
5. Economic System (varies by state role and relative importance of equality).
– Capitalism: Means of production privately owned and operated for profit, not state
owned. Varying adherence to equality among predominantly capitalist nations. We'll
study France, different from US in this regard, more state ownership, regulation.
– Socialism: Large shares of collective or state ownership, relatively equal economic
– Prevalence of mixed economies (predominantly capitalist but with a large state role):
France, China today.
– US system capitalist but not as free-market as we believe. Significant share of the
economy directed by state (in the 20s%) especially after government take-overs of
banks, other industries with contemporary financial crisis (likely to rise to more than
25%). European economies typically 40-50%.
Why study comparative
– studying Comparative Politics will help a person overcome
ethnocentrism. All peoples and countries are ethnocentric,
but Americans seem to be particularly afflicted.
– it enables us to understand how nations change and the
patterns that exist.
– it is intellectually stimulating. Consider these questions:
Why do some countries modernize and others not? Why
are some countries democratic and others not?
– Comparative Politics has a rigorous and effective
methodology. The comparative method is sophisticated
tool of analysis and one that is always open to new
Questions that CP seeks to
– Why are some countries poor and others wealthier?
– What enables some countries to "make it" in the modern world while
others remain locked in poverty?
– Why are the poorer countries more inclined to be governed autocratically
while the richer countries are democratic?
– What accounts for the regional, cultural, and geographic differences that
– What are the politics of the transition from underdevelopment to
development and what helps stimulate and sustain that process?
– What are the internal social and political conditions as well as the
international situations of these various countries that explain the
similarities as well as the differences?
– What are the patterns that help account for the emergence of democratic
– Society is often viewed as the most inclusive act within
which systems may be ovulated
– Systems are abstracts of the real society any phenomenon
of society may be viewed as a system or a sub system
– Scholars abstract from society some elements that seem to
cohere more than others and view them as main elements
of a system
– Elements that are insulated from a change and exist as
constant rather than variables are termed parameters
– Variables of any system include structures, sanctions,
actors, values, norms, goals, inputs outputs, responses and
– The obsession with the systems theory among social
scientists has arisen from their need to predict events
correctly and to be able to change things for the better
– A system is a set of elements standing in interaction, a set
of objects together with relationships between objects and
between their attributes, a whole which is composed of
many parts and ensemble of attributes
– All 3 definitions embody the idea of a group of objects or
elements standing in some characteristic of structural
relationship with one another and interacting on the basis
of certain characteristics processes
– Systems are integrated circuits which means they cohere
with their consistent parts using their individuality
– Systems theory is applied on two paradigms, the 1st is
termed the systems model or the input output analysis
which was developed by David Easton, the 2nd paradigm
analyses the functions of a system and is refered to as the
structural functional approach
– Thus in explaining sources of political order in a society,
Easton acknowledges the mutual exclusivity of sub-parts of
a political system which are mutually reinforcing for an
orderly society.
Political system and subsystem
– A system applies to a collection of a set of elements that interact with
one another eg a political party, pressure group
– Like any other system a political system possesses 4 important
A system is perceived in abstract terms ie for the purpose of
analysis while its elements are concrete
A system possesses specific boundaries in order to differentiate
what lies inside it from what lies outside
A system can be an element or a subsystem of analysis
It can be a subsystem of 2 or more different systems that are
interrelated eg SADC is a system on its own but it’s a subsystem of
the UN or AU.
– According to David Easton, a systems analysis of political life, citizens demands of
inputs are delt with by government decision makers who process them into decision
– The outputs make an impact on social, political or economic which citizens may like
or dislike
– Citizens react by making them in the form of feedback which may result in the
government modifying its decisions.
– In simple terms, Easton's behavioral approach to politics, proposed that a political
system could be seen as a delimited (i.e. all political systems have precise
boundaries) and fluid (changing) system of steps in decision making. Greatly
simplifying his model:
– Step 1. changes in the social or physical environment surrounding a political system
produce "demands" and "supports" for action or the status quo directed as "inputs"
towards the political system, through political behavior.
– Step 2, these demands and supporting groups stimulate competition in a political
system, leading to decisions or "outputs" directed at some aspect of the surrounding
social or physical environment.
– Step 3, after a decision or output is made (e.g., a specific policy), it interacts with its
environment, and if it produces change in the environment, there are "outcomes."
– Step 4, when a new policy interacts with its environment, outcomes may generate
new demands or supports and groups in support or against the policy ("feedback") or
a new policy on some related matter.
– Step 5, feedback leads back to Step 1, it's a never ending story
The political system operates within an environment.
The environment generates demands from different sections of the society such as demand for reservation
in the 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 theses
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.
Critique of the systems
– Its exaggerated/ oversimplified. In practice the society is not
consulted. If consulted usually that is for formality, the opinion of the
civil society does not matter
– Black box / Political system full of corruption, politics of patronage – it
is not transparent it’s a closed area
– Supports and demands are filtered, the inputs backed by political
ambitions for their survival. Demands that re deemed inappropriate
are disqualified
– Specialisation- Break down/ malfunctioning of one system will affect
the whole process
– It is also skeletal to explain the practicality of politics (does not really
espouse how the system operates in terms of structures of that
particular society)
– The structural functional model was developed by Gabriel
– Almond expanded from Easton’s analysis of political system
model by looking at the functions that can be included
among inputs and outputs among political systems
– Easton viewed all political systems as similar and subject to
the same laws of stimulus response
– Easton paid little attention to the perculiar characteristics
of different political systems
– According to Almond and Powell in order for one to
understand political systems, one should understand both
its institutions ie structures and respective functions
– The structural functional model is based on the view that a
political system consists of several key components of
which political parties, interest groups and branches of
government are the most important
– Political systems consists of units or structures that have
certain functions in essence the model is concerned with
the structures that constitute a political system ie interest
groups, political parties, executive legislature and judiciary
– Political systems are compared on the basis of functions
that are performed by the units
– One of the functions of all political systems is interest
aggregation that is the way demands are combined in the
form of alternative forms and actions
– Almond claimed that certain political functions existed in all political
systems. On the input side he listed these functions as: political
socialization, political interest articulation, political interest
aggregation, and political communication. Listed as outputs were
rule-making, rule implementation, and rule adjudication.
– Other basic functions of all political systems included the conversion
process, basic pattern maintenance, and various capabilities
(distributive, symbolic, etc.).
– Structural functionalists argued that all political systems, including
Third World systems, could most fruitfully be studied and compared
on the basis of how differing structures performed these functions in
the various political systems.
– For analytical purposes the political system is considered to be the
nation-state, and the environment is composed of the interactions of
economic, social, and political variables and events, both domestic
and external.
– The idea is that there are a number of actors in the national political
system (political parties, bureaucracies, the military, etc.) and that the
actions of all these actors affect each other as well as the system.
– The political analyst must determine the importance of these actors in
a particular political system. This is done by analyzing the functions
performed by the various actors. Any changes in the system also
affect all the actors. The feedback mechanisms allow for constantly
changing inputs, as actors react to outputs
The Seven (7) Functions Political Systems Need to Perform
recruitment and socialization
getting people to fulfill all the political roles
associated with the political system from voters to
leaders; forming positive attitudes, values, beliefs and
opinions which maintain or sustain the political media
expressing/making demands upon the political system parties/ pressure groups
selecting demands and combining them into a
manageable number of alternatives
taking demands and converting them into the
authoritative decisions of the political system
parties/ interest groups/ media
administering or putting the decisions into effect;
policy implementation
making authoritative decisions about whether or not a
rule has been transgressed in given cases
actors involved
– Structural functionalists, like systems analysts, have a bias toward
systemic equilibrium, (ie toward stability).
– Such a bias tends to make this approach conservative, as stability, or
evolutionary change, is preferred [and more easily analyzed], to
radical, or revolutionary change.
– A problem which arises with this system-based model is that the
nation-state's boundaries are often permeable in the real world,
rather than being the neatly bounded nation-state conceptualized by
structural functionalists.
– In other words, in the real world it is usually difficult to state exactly
what the boundaries are, leading to some conceptual difficulties
– According to Joseph Ranney the term political culture
means a broadly shared set of ways of thinking about
politics and government, a pattern of orientation and
political objects
– It refers to beliefs, values, feelings, information and skill
shared by members
– PC is reflected on national ideology, attitudes towards
political leader, duties of citizens, nature of political activity
and what is termed political and what is not
– It defines the relationship between citizens of the country
with their government therefore it derives from the
institution of the state and evolves around the world of
– Every political system has its own unique political culture
– Political culture signalled a departure from the study of
formal institutions to the study of informal behaviour of
– In the early 1960s, two Americans, Gabriel Almond and Sidney Verba,
outlined three pure types of political culture in Great Britain that can
combine to create civic culture.
– These three key features expressed by both men were composed to
establish a link between the public and the government. The first of
these features is "deference", which considers the concepts of
respect, acknowledgment of "inferiority" or "superiority", and
authority in society.
– The second key feature is "consensus", which represents the key link
between government and public agreement and appeasement.
Support for appeasement may not always be shared by the whole
nation, but as a whole people agree to sustain it, meaning it is a
common agreement
– According to political scientist William S. Stewart, all
political behavior can be explained as participating in one
or more of eight political cultures: anarchism, oligarchy,
Tory corporatism, fascism, classical liberalism, radical
liberalism, democratic socialism, and Leninist socialism
– Gabriel Almond and Sidney Verba in The Civic Culture outlined
three pure types of political culture based on level and type of
political participation and the nature of people's attitudes
toward politics:
Parochial- Where citizens are only remotely aware of the
presence of central government, and live their lives near
enough regardless of the decisions taken by the state,
distant and unaware of political phenomena.
– They have neither knowledge nor interest in politics. This type
of political culture is in general congruent with a traditional
political structure.
– This type of PC has 2 features a) lack of specialised political
roles usually occurs when the leader of a group plays
religious, economic, legal, political and administrative roles
hence there is no difference between socio or eco or
religious system on the one hand and legal and political
systems on the other
– b) where there is little expectations among members,
parochial citizens expect not anything from the political
2. Subject PC- Where citizens are aware of central
government, and are heavily subjected to its decisions with
little scope for dissent.
– The individual is aware of politics, its actors and
institutions. It is affectively oriented towards politics, yet he
is on the "downward flow" side of the politics.
– In general congruent with a centralized authoritarian
– Passive orientation towards politics
– A citizen may not make any input into the government
decision making politics altho he might be aware of
government output
– Such a citizen may not participate in politics because he
feels he might not make any impact in doing so
3. Participant PC- Citizens are able to influence the
government in various ways and they are affected by it.
– The individual is oriented toward the system as a whole, to
both the political and administrative structures and
processes (to both the input and output aspects).
– In general congruent with a democratic political structure
– This culture is demonstrated through political activism
whether in support of or against the government
– Almond and Verba wrote that these types of political culture can combine to create
the civic culture, which mixes the best elements of each
– Arend Lijphart wrote that there are different classifications of political culture:
– First classification:
– Mass political culture
– Elite political culture
– Second classification (of elite political culture):
– coalitional
– contradictive
– Lijphart also classified the structure of society:
– homogeneous
– heterogeneous
– Ranney defines PS as the developmental process by which
people acquire the political orientations and patterns of
– It’s a way in which society transmits its political culture
from one generation to the next through the process of
teaching or learning about all aspects of the political
system hence changes in the process of PS results in
changes in political culture and vice versa
– Every society teaches its members how to interact with each
other and how to survive, through PS people absorbs values,
attitudes, beliefs, info and judgements regarding politics, in
other words they absorb the society PC
– A child brought up in a certain community develops into an
adult who appreciates certain values of a community
– From an early age a child is taught to manifest his or her
national loyalty by identifying political symbols such as
national pledge, labels of pol parties; ideologies etc
– The political behaviour of an individual that is his beliefs and
attitudes depends largely on his early childhood experience
– Political socialization is the process by which political culture is transmitted in a given
– Political socialization is a life long process and a variety of individuals and institutions
contribute to its shaping effect.
– For example, individuals are politically socialized by such groups as their family,
peers, and social class. Furthermore, they are socialized by existing laws, media,
religion, education, their own gender, and more. Basically, the process is never
ending and the factors which shape it are all encompassing.
– Those groups and institutions which contribute to the process of political
socialization are known as the agents of socialization.
– The primary agents of socialization are those that directly develop specific political
orientations such as the family. Whereas, the secondary agents of socialization tend
to be less personal and involved in the process of socialization in a more indirect
manner such as the media.
Forms of PS
– Two major forms that is direct and indirect socialisation
Direct/ manifest
– Takes place when a person is explicitly taught about politics
– It is known as deliberate indoctrination, it maybe through
political history
– Involves teachings of political institutions, political behaviour
expected of citizens, respect for political leaders and the
proper methods of political participation
– Lessons are either taught through example, formal education,
private study, direct political experience
Indirect/ Latent PS
– Applies to the communication of non political attitudes
towards corresponding roles and objects in the political system
– Non political lessons and experiences can have political effects
– Includes statements by public officials in support of their
policies, criticism of political opponents, newspapers,
television programs, political events, rituals and celebrations,
discussions with friends and family members
– This indirect PS is not acquired through deliberate design/
conscious purpose
Elements of PS
Political Identity
– The 3 basic aspects of a political individual are
a) Political attachments, children form an attachment with the symbols of a
pol system from an early age eg flag, national anthem and past and present
pol heroes
– Many children idealise the pol system in which they are brought up in, this
childhood attachment is a necessary precondition for loyalty to the pol
system as children become adults
– Whether a child identifies himself as shona, ndebele rather than a
zimbabwean is of concern to political leaders because it shapes his or her
– People find it hard to surrender their birthright ie identity acquired during
b) Political attitudes and beliefs
– People may react differently to political policies, programs,
personalities and events
– Basic political attitudes and values tend to be formed early in
childhood and tend to be relatively consistent throughout life.
– Thus, the family is a very important agent of political
socialization. However, the degree to which these basic
political orientations are retained by the individual varies as a
result of the discontinuities one experiences in their political
Agents of Socialisation
1. Media
– Television, radio, newspapers, books, magazines, films, the
internet are methods of mass communication that play a
pivotal socialisation role
– Pol info forms a basis of circulations in the political system
– Pol communication can also reinforce or undermine forms of
– Media is crucial towards dissemination of information in
complex heterogeneous and technologically advanced
– The media impacts upon political socialisation in three
– Politicians must present a favourable media image,
otherwise they will fail to win votes.
– The media can often determine an agenda that politicians
tend to follow.
– Newspapers can reinforce their readers to vote for a
particular party. However, it is debateable as to how much
impact the press really has upon voting behaviour.
3. Education
– All forms of education whether it is working in schools or
learning in a classroom involves PS
– Schooling develops the individual politically in 2 important
respects (i) by providing experience that shapes the
political influence of students (ii) a persons level of
education largely determines his interest in politics
– At school a student undergoes various forms of direct or
indirect forms of socialisation
– A student develops attitudes of submission or participation
as a result of influence given to him by the teacher or
school authorities
– Schools are vital agencies of government control of
students attitudes, values and beliefs
3. Peer Groups
– Children play or operate as street gangs in associations formed
on the basis of direct or indirect PS
– Members in a group develop skills in human interaction and in
group decision making which are vital for the transmition of
political info
– Usually info from mass media acquired by certain individuals
who pass it to their peers through a network of friends
– Value of such association depends on the way it is interpreted
by members of the group
– In modern industrialised societies street gangs reject
parental values and further undermine the formal
socialisation process
– In such societies adolescents associate more with their
peers than members of their own families
– Young people thus develop values of their own and these
are often different from those of their parents