Critically Examine the Nature and Scope of Comparative Politics
Comparative politics is the study and appraisal of domestic politics across countries. Comparative politics has a long and very eminent history dating back just before the origin of systematic political studies in ancient Greece and Rome. Even ancient people compared their situations with those of other people with whom they came in contact. The ancient Greeks performed the earliest systematic comparisons of a more modern and secular.
Comparative politics is a key area in political science, pigeonholed by an empirical approach based on the comparative method. To put it another way, comparative politics is the study of domestic politics, political institutions, and conflicts of countries. It often encompasses comparisons among countries and through time within single countries, emphasizing major patterns of similarity and difference.
Many political theorists like Arend Lijphart argued that comparative politics does not have a functional focus in itself, instead of a methodological one (Lijphart, Arend,1971). In simple form, comparative politics is not defined by the object of its study but by the method it applies to study political phenomena. Peter Mair and Richard Rose gave a modern definition of comparative politics and stated that comparative politics is elaborated by a combination of a substantive focus on the study of countries' political systems and a method of recognizing and explaining similarities and differences between these countries using common models (Peter, 1996).
In the field of Comparative politics, the term politics has three connotations such as political activities, political process, and political power. The political activity consists of the efforts by which the conditions of conflicts are created and resolved in a way pertaining to the interest of people as far as possible who play their part in the struggle for power. The political process is an extension of political activity. Political power is a major topic in comparative politics. The term power has been defined by different writers. Friedrich described power as a certain kind of human relationship. Whereas Tawney explained power as a capacity of an individual or group of individuals to modify the conduct of other individuals in a manner which he desires (J. C. Johari, 1982).
When applied to particular fields of study, comparative politics denotes by other names, such as 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). Many theorists articulated that "Comparative political science" as a general term for an area of study, as opposed to a methodology of the study, can be seen as redundant. The political only shows as political when either an overt or tacit comparison is being made.
NATURE OF COMPARATIVE POLITICS: The nature and scope of comparative politics are fathomable only when one understands the main characteristics and significance of comparative government. Although the two terms 'Comparative Politics' and 'Comparative Governments' are used lightly and interchangeably, there is a distinction between them.
Conventionally, the comparative study of politics stands entitled as 'comparative government'. Comparative government includes the study of features and legal powers of political institutions existing in various states. It is the study of state and other political institutions in terms of their legal powers, functions, and positions on a comparative basis.
Key characteristics of comparative government are mentioned below:
- Stress upon the study of political institutions of various countries.
- Focus on the study of major constitutions of the world.
- Emphasis upon the study of powers and functions of various political institutions working in different countries.
- The formal study of the organization and powers, description of the features of the constitutions and political institutions, and legal powers of political institutions form the basic contents of a comparative government study.
- To devise a theory of ideal political institutions has been the objective. These traits make comparative government a popular area of study during the beginning of 20th century.
Subsequently, the Majority of political scientists greatly displeased with its narrow scope, intuitive methodology, and formal legalistic-institutional and normative approach. These researchers then adopt comprehensiveness, realism, precision, and scientific study of the processes of politics as their new goal. Their efforts came to be labeled as comparative politics.
Basically, the study of comparative politics involves mindful comparisons in studying; political experiences, institutions, behavior, and processes of major systems of government. It comprises of the study of even extra-constitutional agencies along with the study of formal governmental organs. It is concerned with important regularities, similarities, and differences in the working of political behavior. Consequently, comparative Politics can be defined as the subject that compares the political systems in various parts of the globe, with a view to comprehend and define the nature of politics and to devise a scientific theory of politics.
Some popular definitions of comparative politics are given below:
- According to John Blondel, comparative politics is "the study of patterns of national governments in the contemporary world".
- M.G. Smith described that "Comparative Politics is the study of the forms of political organizations, their properties, correlations, variations and modes of change".
- E.A Freeman stated that "Comparative Politics is a comparative analysis of the various forms of govt. and diverse political institutions".
It can be established that comparative politics encompasses a comparative study of not only the institutional and mechanistic arrangements but also an empirical and scientific investigation of non-institutionalized and non-political determinants of political behavior. An empirical study of political processes, structures, and functions shape a major part of comparative political studies. It is demonstrated in the literature that comparative analyses and compares the political systems operating in various societies. To do this, it takes into account all the three implications of politics that include political activity, the political process, and political power.
Comparative Politics is pigeonholed by numerous features. These are mentioned below:
Analytical and empirical research
An objective study of politics: A value-free empirical study-It rejects normative descriptive methods of comparative government.
Study of the infra-structure of politics: Comparative Politics, now analyses the actual behavior of individuals; groups structures, subsystems, and systems in relation to the environment. It studies the actual behavior of all institutions.
Inter-disciplinary focus: Comparative Politics focuses on an interdisciplinary approach. It studies politics with the help of other social science like psychology, sociology, anthropology, and economics. It studies political processes in both developed and developing countries. The biased and parochial nature of traditional studies stands replaced and the study of political systems of Asia, Africa, and Latin America enjoys equal importance with the study of African and European political systems.
Theory building as the objective: The objective of Comparative politics study is scientific theory building. Adoption of 'Political Systems With the above features, Comparative politics emerges as a new science of politics. It has prohibited the non-comprehensive scope, formal character, legal and institutionalized framework, normative approach, and parochial nature of the traditional comparative government studies.
MAJOR APPROACHES OF COMPARATIVE POLITICS
Political investigators use different approaches tools to arrive at greater political understanding. Approaches support in defining the kinds of facts that are relevant.
The diversity of approaches is used by political scientists to attack the complexity of political systems and behavior. Conventionally, the study of comparative politics is termed as 'comparative government'. It includes the study of political institutions existing in various states.
The features, advantages, demerits, similarities, and dissimilarities of political institutions were compared. It was an attempt to ascertain the best of political institutions. The focus (Traditional view), continued to remain popular up to the end of the 19th century. In the 20th century, the study of political government underwent revolutionary changes. The traditional focus of the study of politics got substituted by new scope, methodology, concepts, techniques which were known as the contemporary view of the study of politics.
Political researchers made great attempts to develop a new science of 'comparative politics'. They espoused comprehensiveness, realism, precision, and use of scientific methods as the new goals for the study of comparative politics. This new endeavor is nowadays promoted as 'modern' comparative politics. In modern assessment, the scope of comparative politics is much wider. It includes the analysis and comparison of the actual behavior of political structures, formal as well as informal.
Researchers believe that these political structures, governmental or non-governmental, directly or indirectly affect the process of politics in all political systems. Both traditional and modern comparative politics adopt different approaches to its study. Traditional scientists follow narrow and normative approach. It involves descriptive studies with a legal institutional framework and normative prescriptive focus. Whereas modern political scientists follow empirical, analytical studies with a process-orientated or behavioral focus and they adopt the scientific methodology. It seeks to analyze and compare empirically the actual behavior of political structures.
TRADITIONAL APPROACHES: The traditional approach to Political Science was broadly predominant till the occurrence of the Second World War. These approaches were mainly associated with the traditional outlook of politics which underlined the study of the state and government. Consequently, traditional approaches are principally concerned with the study of the organization and activities of the state and principles and the ideas which motivate political organizations and activities. These approaches were normative and principled. The political philosophers supporting these approaches and raised questions such 'what should be an ideal state?' According to them, the study of Political Science should be limited to the formal structures of the government, laws, rules and regulations. Therefore, the supporters of the traditional approaches stress various norms such as what 'ought to be' or 'should be' rather than 'what is'.
Characteristics of Traditional Approaches:
- Traditional approaches are mostly normative and stress the values of politics.
- Prominence is on the study of different formal political structures.
- Traditional approaches made very little attempt to relate theory and research.
- These approaches consider that since facts and values are closely interlinked, studies in Political Science can never be scientific.
There are many types of traditional approaches that are as follows;
1. Philosophical approach: The philosophical approach is the conventional approach to study politics. Customarily, the study of politics was subjugated by philosophical reflections on universal political values that were regarded as essential to the just state and the good state. The oldest approach to the study of politics is philosophical. Philosophy "is the study or science of truths or principles underlying all knowledge and being." It entails that philosophy or philosophical approach tries to explore the truth of political incidents or events. It discovers the objective of political writings or the purpose of the political writers. The main aim of the philosophical approach is to evaluate the consequences of events in a logical and scientific manner. Van Dyke opined that "philosophy denotes thought about thought. Somewhat more broadly it denotes general conceptions of ends and means, purposes and methods." The purpose of the philosophical approach is to explain the words and terms used by political theorists. The inquiry started by the philosophical approach removes confusion about the assumptions. Several Greek philosophers such as Plato and Aristotle were the creators of this approach. The main subject of Plato's writings was to define the nature of an ideal society. This approach states that values are inseparable from facts. It is mainly an ethical and normative study of politics, hence is concerned with what 'should be' or 'ought to be'. This approach seeks to understand our fundamental nature and aim as human beings, recognizing principles and standards of right conduct in political life. It is normative in character and believes in developing norms or certain standards. It followed the logical method where the investigator has his own values and determined philosophies. The benefit of the philosophical approach is that it enters into the depth of every aspect of political phenomena and examines them without any partiality. Its interpretation of political activities conjures interest in the minds of students of politics. Words and phrases used by philosophers highlight points on the subject. The philosophical approach enhances linguistic clarity. That is why it is said that this approach aims at the thought about thought.
Philosophical approach uses procedure of logical analysis. It uses reason to explore the truth. The truth which this approach establishes may be of various kinds-normative, descriptive or prescriptive. But the philosophical approach is indifferent to the nature or category of truth. This approach also tries to establish standards of good, right and just. Many critics observed that this approach determines what is in the interest of the public and he identifies interest more with ends than with means. In the huge arena of political science, there are a number of great or outstanding books. The philosophical approach explores the meaning and central theme of these books as well as the exact purpose of the authors. In the contemporary Greek city-states of Plato morality, moral values, and idealism ruined to such an extent that he received a great shock and seriously thought to recuperate these and this urge encouraged him to write The Republic. He wanted to establish that politics and morality are not etheric concepts. Rather, an ideal and moral body politic can be made a real one through the selfless administration by a philosopher-king. John Locke composed his Second Treatise to rationalize the interests and objectives of the new middle class and the struggle of people for liberty. Other political philosopher such as Machiavelli and Hobbes wrote to support royal absolutism. Some critics may not agree with the views of these philosophers or the arguments of these books, but it must not be forgotten that the books were written at a particular and critical moment of history. It is well established that the Philosophical approach helps people to understand the contemporary history and the nature of politics suggested by philosophers. In other words, the philosophical approach aids to comprehend the political ideologies of past centuries. In this sense, the philosophical approach is very important for researchers and people. Application of the philosophical approach in political science focuses on the great ideas, values and doctrines of politics. The normative-philosophical approach is the ancient and the least scientific approach to the study of politics and it has been taken over although not completely displaced by contemporary approaches.
Criticism of the Philosophical Approach: Though the philosophical approach is highly important for scholars and other people to the study of politics, critics have raised several problems with its worth. It is documented in the literature that one of the central ideas of political philosophy is idealism and it is conspicuous in Plato's The Republic. Critics argued that idealism itself is quite good but when its practical application arises it appears to be a myth. Plato emphasized Idealism in his theory, but it had no practical importance and be fully realized that idealism would never be translated into reality. It is a subject of absolute imagination. Machiavelli and Hobbes wrote with the only purpose of supporting the status. The philosophical intellectuals of the earlier periods were impractical philosophers. They had no intention to promulgate ideas that can change society. They were apathetic to people's liking and disliking, their love for liberty, their sorrows and sufferings and they failed to provide prophylactic devices. As an academic discipline, the philosophical approach is appropriate, but in a practical guide for action, it has barely any importance.
2. Historical approach: This approach states that political theory can be only understood when the historical factors are taken into consideration. It highlights on the study of the history of every political reality to analyze any situation. Political theorists like Machiavelli, Sabine and Dunning believed that politics and history are strongly inter-related, and therefore, the study of politics always should have a historical viewpoint. Sabine considered that Political Science should include all those subjects which have been discussed in the writings of different political thinkers since Plato. History defines the past as well as links it with the present events. Without studying the past political events, institutions, and political environment, the analysis of the present would remain largely imperfect. The main attribute of the historical approach is that history as a written or recorded subject and focuses on past events. From history, researchers come to know how man was in the past and what he is now. History is the store-house of events. From the profiles, autobiographies, descriptions by authors, and journalists investigators know what events occurred in the past. It is to be prominent that the events must have political revealing or they must be politically significant. These events provide the best materials upon which theory and principles of political science are built. History communicates to researchers how government, political parties, and many other institutions worked, their successes and failures and from these, they receive lessons that guide them in determining the future course of action.
Evaluation of Historical Approach: The historical approach to the study of politics has numerous challenges from several quarters. One of the main fulcrums of the challenges is that history has two faces. One is documentation of facts which is quite naive and the other is the construal of facts and phenomena. The accretion of evidence is to be judged from a proper perspective. The implication is that adequate care should be taken while evaluating evidence and facts and such caution is not always strictly followed and, as a result, the historical facts do not serve the purpose of those who use it. This is the main complaint against the historical approach to the study of politics. Alan Ball has also criticized the historical approach. He debated that "past evidence does leave-alarming gaps, and political history is often simply a record of great men and great events, rather than a comprehensive account of total political activity." Very few historians interpret historical events and evidence broadly and freely.
3. Institutional approach: There is a strong belief that philosophy, history, and law have bestowed to the study of politics and it is in the field of institutional approaches. Institutional approaches are an ancient and important approach to the study of Political Science. These approaches mainly deal with the formal aspects of government and politics. The institutional approach is concerned with the study of the formal political structures like the legislature, executive, and judiciary. It focused on the rules of the political system, the powers of the various institutions, the legislative bodies, and how the constitution worked. The main drawback of this approach was its narrow focus on formal structures and arrangements. In far-reaching terms, an institution can be described as 'any persistent system of activities in any pattern of group behavior. More concretely, an institution has been regarded as 'offices and agencies arranged in a hierarchy, each agency having certain functions and powers. The study of institutions has been dominant not only to the arena of comparative politics but in the political science field as a whole. Many writers have argued that institutions have shaped political behavior and social change. These authors have taken an "institutionalist" approach which treats institutions as independent variables. The institutional approach to political analysis emphasizes the formal structures and agencies of government. It originally concentrated on the development and operation of legislatures, executives, and judiciaries. As the approach developed, however, the list is extended to include political parties, constitutions, bureaucracies, interest groups, and other institutions which are more or less enduringly engaged in politics. Though the descriptive-institutional approach is slightly old, political experts still concentrate chiefly on scrutinizing the major political institutions of the state such as the executive, legislature, the civil service, the judiciary and local government, and from these examinations, valuable insights as to their organization can be drawn, proposals for reform conversed and general conclusions obtainable. The approach has been critiqued for the disregard of the informal aspects of politics, such as, individual norms, social beliefs, cultural values, groups’ attitudes, personality, and processes. The institutional approach is also criticized for being too narrow. It ignores the role of individuals who constitute and operate the formal as well as informal structures and substructures of a political system. Another problem is that the meaning and the range of an institutional system vary with the view of the scholars. Researchers of this approach ignored international politics (J. C. Johari, 1982).
4. Legal Approach: In the realm of traditional approaches, there is a legal or juridical approach. This approach considers the state as the central organization for the creation and enforcement of laws. Therefore, this approach is associated with the legal process, legal bodies or institutions, and the judiciary. In this approach, the study of politics is mixed with legal processes and institutions. The theme of law and justice are treated as not mere affairs of jurisprudence rather political scientists look at the state as the maintainer of an effective and equitable system of law and order. Matters relating to the organizations, jurisdiction, and independence of judicial institutions become an essential concern of political scientists. This approach treats the state primarily as an organization for creation and enforcement of the law (J. C. Johari, 1982). The supporters of this approach are Cicero, Bodin, Hobbes, John Austin, Dicey and Henry Maine. In the system of Hobbes, the head of the state is the highest legal authority and his command is law that must be obeyed either to avoid punishment following its infraction or to keep the dreadful state of nature away. Other scientists described that the study of politics is bound with the legal process of the country and the existence of the harmonious state of liberty and equality is earmarked by the rule of law (J. C. Johari, 1982). The legal approach is applied to national as well as international politics. It stands on assumptions that law prescribes action to be taken in given contingency and also forbids the same in certain other situations. It also emphasizes the fact that where the citizens are law-abiding, the knowledge of the law offers an important basis for predictions relating to the political behavior of people. Though it is an effective approach but not free from criticism. This approach is narrow. Law includes only one aspect of people's life. It cannot cover the entire behavior of political actions (J. C. Johari, 1982). Criticism of traditional approaches: The traditional approaches have gloomily unsuccessful to identify the role of the individuals who are important in molding and remolding the shape and nature of politics. In fact, individuals are important players of both national and international politics. The focus is directed to the institutions. It is astounding that in all the institutions, there are individuals who control the structure, functions and other aspects. Singling out institutions and neglecting individuals cannot be pronounced as proper methods to study politics. The definition politics as the study of institution is nothing but an overstatement or a travesty of truth. Other political researchers argued that traditional approach is mainly descriptive. Politics does not rule out description, but it is also analytical. Sheer description of facts does not inevitably establish the subject matter of political science. Its purpose is study the depth of every incident. Investigators want to know not only occurrence but also why a particular incident occurs at a particular time. The standpoint of the traditionalists is limited within the institutions. Political researchers in modern world are not motivated to limit their analysis of politics within institutions. They have explored the role of the environment into which is included international politics multinational corporations, non-governmental organizations or trans-national bodies. It is assumed that traditional analysis is inappropriate for all types of political systems both Western and non-Western. To recompense this deficiency, the political scientists of the post-Second World War period have developed a general system approach that is quite comprehensive. The outstanding feature of traditional approaches is that there is a value-laden system.
MODERN APPROACHES:The political philosophers later on realized the need to study politics from a new viewpoint. Thus, to overcome the paucities of the traditional approaches, various new approaches have been promoted by the new political intellectuals. These new approaches are considered as the "modern approaches" to the study of Political Science. Many theorists regard these approaches as a reaction against the traditional approaches. These approaches are mainly concerned with the scientific study of politics. The first innovation in this regard comes with the advent of the behavioral revolution in Political Science.
Characteristics of Modern Approaches:
- These approaches draw conclusions from empirical data.
- These approaches go beyond the study of political structures and they're historical analysis.
- Modern Approaches believe in interdisciplinary study.
- They stress scientific methods of study and attempt to draw scientific conclusions in Political Science.
1. Political-Economic approach: Economics and politics are vital arenas of social science and in several respects, they are closely related. In the prospectus of universities of India and many other countries a few decades ago, economics and political science established a single subject which suggests the close relationship between the two. This signifies that in the study of politics, economics has great importance. When evaluating the economic approaches, it is established that the policy formulations of economic nature and determination of the principles of planning which has recently become a part of the governmental activity are done by the government. In majority of the countries, public issues are economic issues and sometimes the only actors are the personnel of the government such as the prime minister, president and other ministers. This obvious relationship between the two subjects has placed the economic approach in a suitable position. Fiscal policies, industrial policy, agricultural policy, labour policy are all economic issues, but the foremost actors are the members of the government. The executive branch takes the final decision. There are many specialists and advisers. The implementation is approved by the government. Policy regarding production and distribution, though within the jurisdiction of economics, is always decided by the government. It is well recognized that the impact of success and failure of the economic policies depend upon the government. So discussion of politics cannot be successful without economics. The greatest attribution of the economic approach to the study of politics emanates from the writings of Marx and Engels. The principle of class struggle, increasing impoverishment and capitalism's exploitation are based on economic factors. Marx and Engels has highlighted the heterogeneity of interests between the classes. Classes are formed on the basis of economic interests. Capitalist's profit-making motive leads to the exploitation of workers. To liberate from exploitation, the workers are enforced to struggle. The idea of emancipation is associated with economic terms. Marx stated that politics is controlled by the persons who own sources of production and manage the process of distribution. Outside economic influence, politics has no independent authority. Marx's theory of base (the state institution) and superstructure (society) is a matter of the relationship between economics and politics. Possibly, Marx is the only philosopher who has vehemently argued the relationship between the two important subjects of social science. The interest group approach to the study of politics is popular in some liberal democratic countries and this conception is related to the economic approach. Interest groups or pressure groups create pressure to achieve economic objectives. Therefore, interest group politics and economic approach are mutually dependent.
2. System approach: This approach falls in the category of modern approach. The notion of Systems Theory was emerged from ancient time, dates back to 1920s. Ludwig Von Bertallanfy is considered as the earliest advocate of the general systems theory. He utilized this theory for the study of Biology. It is only after the Second World War, the social scientists claimed for the amalgamation of sciences for which they took the help of the systems theory. However, when the general systems theory in its abstract form traced back to natural sciences like Biology, in its operational form, they are found in Anthropology. Then it was embraced in Sociology and Psychology. In the decade of sixties, the systems theory became an important tool to evaluate and investigate key factors in Political Science. Among political scientists, David Easton has been the first to apply this theory to political analysis. This approach describes the relationship of political life with other aspects of social life. The idea of a system was initially borrowed from biology by Talcott Parsons who first promoted the concept of the social system. Later on, David Easton further developed the concept of a political system. This approach signified that a political system operates within the social environment. Consequently, it is not possible to analyze political events in isolation from other aspects of society. To put in another way, influences from the society, be it economic, religious or otherwise, do shape the political process. Figure: System approach The political system operates within an environment. The environment produces demands from different parts of the society such as demand for reservation in the matter of employment for certain groups, demand for soothing working conditions or minimum wages, demand for better transportation facilities, demand for better health facilities. Different demands have different levels of support. Easton said that both 'demands' and 'supports' establish 'inputs.' The political system receives these inputs from the environment. After considering various factors, 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 recurring process. Presently, the term 'political system' has been chosen to the term state or government because it includes both formal informal political instructions and processes those continue to exist in a society. A systems approach to political institutions by the behavioural school has evolved new concept. David Easton, G. A. Almond and Morton A. Kaplan are credited for applying this approach in Political Science. According to this theory, political behaviour is conceived as a system and the political system is welldefined as "Authoritative allocation of values with threat or actual use of deprivations to make them binding on all". It is the system of interactions to be found in independent societies that performs the functions of integration and adaptation both internally and externally by means of the employment of legitimate physical compulsion. A political system has three important characteristics, specifically, comprehensiveness, interdependence, and the existence of boundaries. However, the features of a political system are openness, adaptiveness, comprehensiveness, self-regulating, ongoing. It is composed of a number of structures that have specific functions. These functions are pigeonholed as input and output functions. A political system performs these in order to maintain itself.
3. Behavioural approach: Behaviouralism is considered a contemporary approach to the study of political science. But this approach emerged during the 20th century. An important consideration of Behaviouralism has been the study of political behavior, as an area of study within Political Science. It concentrates is on the individual as a voter, leader, revolutionary, party member and the influences of the group or the political system on the individual's political behavior. Behaviouralism stresses upon scientific, objective and value-free study of the political occurrences as conditioned by the environment, firmly the behavior of the individuals involved in that phenomena. As such, it focuses on the role of the behavior of the individual at various levels and scientific analysis. Behaviouralism is the development of a method against traditional political science which did not take into account if human behavior as an actor in politics. Behaviouralism is quite different from behaviorism. Behaviourism is narrow in its application. It refers to the response of an organism as aroused by some stimulus. It does not consider role of the feelings, ideas, prejudices that determine the response of that individual. Behaviouralism does take into account the role of feelings, ideas, and prejudices. David Easton differentiates between behaviorism and behaviouralism through an example. The paradigm adopted by behaviorists, according to him is SR (Stimulus-Response). But the behavioral lists have improved it by making it as S-O-R (Stimulus-Organism-Response). David Easton regards behavioral revolution as an intellectual tendency on the part of political scientists to study empirically the political behavior of persons. Striking Features of Behaviouralism: David Easton has described certain key features of behaviouralism which are regarded as its intellectual foundations. These are:
Regularities: This approach believes that there are certain consistencies in political behavior that can be expressed in generalizations or theories in order to elucidate and predict political phenomena. In a particular situation, the Political behavior of individuals may be more or less similar. Such regularities of behavior may help the researcher to analyze a political situation as well as to predict the future political phenomena. The study of such regularities makes Political Science more scientific with some predictive value.
Verification: The behaviouralists do not want to accept everything as established. Therefore, they stress testing and verifying everything. According to them, if the phenomenon is not verified then it will not be scientific.
Techniques: The behaviouralists stress on the use of those research tools and methods which generate valid, reliable and comparative data. A researcher must make use of refined tools like sample surveys, mathematical models, simulation.
Quantification: After collecting data, the researcher should measure and quantify those data.
Values: The behaviouralists have emphasized the 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 ideas or prejudiced views.
Systematization: According to behaviouralists, research in Political Science must be systematic. Theory and research should go together.
Pure Science: Another feature 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.
Integration: behaviouralists stated that political Science should not be detached from various other social sciences such as history, sociology, and economics. This approach denotes that political events are formed by various other factors in the society and therefore, it would be incorrect to separate Political Science from other disciplines. Consequently, with the development of behaviouralism, novel thinking, and a new method of the study were evolved in the field of Political Science.
Advantages of the behavioral approach are as follows: -
This approach attempts to make Political Science a scientific method and brings it closer to the day to day life of the individuals.
Behaviouralism has bought human behavior into the arena of Political Science and thereby makes the study more relevant to society. This approach helps in predicting future political events. The behavioral approach has been supported by different political philosophers. However, the Behavioural approach also gripped under various criticisms for its scientism also.
The main criticisms of this approach are mentioned below:
Criticism: This approach has been criticized for its dependence on techniques and methods and ignoring the subject matter.
- The supporters of this approach were mistaken when they thought that human beings behave in similar ways in similar circumstances. Moreover, it is a difficult task to study human behavior and to get a certain result.
- Most of the political phenomena are immeasurable. Therefore, it is always difficult to use the scientific method in the study of Political Science. Furthermore, the researcher being a human being is not always value-neutral as believed by the behaviouralists.
- Behaviouralism put overemphasizes on scientific techniques and methods.
- It is criticized as Pseudo-politics as it aims at upholding only American institutions as the best in the world.
- It stresses behavioral effect at the cost of institutional effect. It emphasizes static rather than current situations.
- It is value-free research, as its debate is not possible.
4. Structural functional approach: According to this approach, society is a single inter-related system where each part of the system has a definite and distinct role to play. The structural-functional approach may be considered as an offshoot of the system analysis. These approaches accentuate the structures and functions. Gabriel Almond was an advocate of this approach. He described political systems as a special system of interaction that exists in all societies performing certain functions. According to him, the main attributes of a political system are comprehensiveness, inter-dependence, and the existence of boundaries. Like Easton, Almond also believes that all political systems perform input and output functions.
The Input functions of political systems are political socialization and recruitment, interest articulation, interest-aggression and political communication. Almond makes three-fold classifications of governmental output functions relating to policymaking and implementation. These output functions are rulemaking, rule application, and rule adjudication. Therefore, Almond believes that a stable and efficient political system converts inputs into outputs. To summarize, the comparative study of politics and government scans political institutions from constitutions to executives to parliaments to parties to electoral laws and the processes and relationships that account for constancy and change in political economy, culture, conflict, government, rights and public policy.
Comparative Politics encompasses the systematic study and comparison of the world's political systems. It describes differences between as well as similarities among countries. In contrast to journalistic reporting on a single country, comparative politics is mainly interested in discovering patterns, processes, and regularities among political systems. It looks for trends, for changes in patterns and it tries to develop the general hypothesis that define these trends.
It seeks to do such comparisons thoroughly and systematically, without personal, biased, or philosophical axes to grind. It involves hard work, clear thinking, careful and thorough scholarship, and (hopefully) clear, consistent, and balanced writing.