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's with whom they came in contact. The Bible is possibly one of the first written statements of comparative politics. The ancient Greeks performed the earliest systematic comparisons of a more modern and secular.
Comparative politics is key area in political science, pigeonholed by an empirical approach based on the comparative method. To put it in another way, comparative politics is the study of the 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 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 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 recognising and explaining similarities and differences between these countries using common models (Peter, 1996). Rose mentioned that in comparative politics, "The focus is explicitly or implicitly upon more than one country, thus following familiar political science usage in excluding within-nation comparison. Methodologically, comparison is distinguished by its use of concepts that are applicable in more than one country"(Rose, Richard, 1991).
In the field of Comparative politics, the term politics has three connotation such as political activities, political process and political power. 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 in their part in struggle for power. Political process is an extension of political activity. Political power is the 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).
Comparative government studies were used by political researchers to get correct and valid conclusions regarding the nature and organisation of state and government. Their major objective was to discover the historical and legal similarities and dissimilarities among the various governments and their political institutions. A comparative- normative-prescriptive study of constitutions was conducted. It was an attempt to recognise the best political institutions.
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 study, can be seen as redundant. The political only shows as political when either an overt or tacit comparison is being made. A study of a single political entity, whether a society, subculture or period, would demonstrate the political as simple brute reality without comparison with another society, subculture, or period.
Different comparative method are used such as the experimental method, the statistical method and the case study approach. These are fundamental scientific methods which can be used to test the validity of theoretical propositions, often with the use of empirical data i.e. to establish relationships among two or more empirical variables or concepts while all other variables are held constant (Lijphart, A.,1971). Specifically, the comparative method is generally used when neither the experimental nor the statistical method can be implemented. Experiments can only hardly be conducted in political science. Statistical method implies the mathematical manipulation of quantitative data about a large number of cases, while sometimes political research must be conducted by analysing the behaviour of qualitative variables in a small number of cases. The case study approach cannot be regarded as a scientific method, however it can be useful to gain knowledge about single cases, which can then be put to comparison according to the comparative method (Lijphart, A., 1971).
Nature and scope of comparative politics is 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 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:
These traits make comparative government popular area of study during the beginning of 20th century. Subsequently, 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 labelled as comparative politics.
Basically, the study of comparative politics involves mindful comparisons in studying; political experiences, institutions, behaviour 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 behaviour. Consequently, comparative Politics can be defined as the subject that compare 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 organisations, their properties, correlations, variations and modes of change". E.A Freeman stated that "Comparative Politics is 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-institutionalised and non-political determinants of political behaviour. Empirical study of political processes, structures and functions shapes a major part of comparative political studies.
It is demonstrated in 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, political process and political power. Political activity include all the activities involved in conflict resolution or in the struggle for power. Since the basic means of conflict-resolution is the authoritative allocation of values, it involves an investigation of the process by which the authoritative values are made and implemented in all societies. In this perspective, politics denotes political process. It involves the study of all formal as well as non-formal structures through which the political process gets operationalised. The political process gets information and signals from the environment and then changes such information and signals into authoritative values. Lastly politics, being a struggle for power or a process of conflict resolution through the use of legitimate power, involves a study of power or power relations in society. Laswell pronounced politics as the process of determining and sharing of power whereas Robert Dahl maintained that politics involves power rule and authority to a significant extent. Hence, the study of politics involves the study of power. As such, comparative politics involves the study and comparison of political activity, political process and struggle for power in various political systems. It seeks to analyse and compare political systems in a holistic way as well as through a comparative analysis of their structures, functions, infra-structures and processes.
Comparative Politics is pigeonholed by numerous features. These are mentioned below:
With above features, Comparative politics is emerged as a new science of politics. It has prohibited the non-comprehensive scope, formal character, legal and institutionalised framework, normative approach and parochial nature of the traditional comparative government studies.
Political investigators use different approaches tools to arrive at greater political understanding. Approaches support in defining the kinds of facts which are relevant. The diversity of approaches are used by political scientists to attack the complexity of political systems and behaviour.
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 was known as 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 endeavour is nowadays promoted as 'modern' comparative politics. In the modern assessment, the scope of comparative politics is much wider. It includes the analysis and comparison of the actual behaviour 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 behavioural focus and they adopt scientific methodology. It seeks to analyse and compare empirically the actual behaviour of political structures.
The traditional approaches 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:
There are many types of traditional approaches.
Philosophical approach is 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 political writer.
Main aim of 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 philosophical approach is to explain the words and terms used by the political theorists. The enquiry 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 investigator has his own values and determined philosophies.
Benefit of 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 point on the subject. Philosophical approach enhances linguistic clarity. That is why it is said that this approach aims at thought about thought.
Philosophical approach use 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 that with means.
In the huge arena of political science, there are a number of great or outstanding books. 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 an 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 he 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 particular and critical moment of history.
It is well established that Philosophical approach helps people to understand the contemporary history and the nature of politics suggested by philosophers. In other words, the philosophical approach aid 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 philosophical approach is highly important for scholars and other people to the study of politics, critics have raised several problems about its worth. It is documented in 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 not practical importance and be fully realised 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 quo.
The philosophical intellectuals of the earlier periods were impractical philosophers. They had no intention to promulgate ideas which 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, philosophical approach is appropriate, but in practical guide for action, it has barely any importance.
This approach states that political theory can be only understood when the historical factors are taken into consideration. It highlights on the study of history of every political reality to analyse 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 about 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.
Main attribute of historical approach is that history as a written or recorded subject and focuses on the 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 event 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 researchers how government, political parties and many other institutions worked, their successes and failures and from these, they receive lessons which 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 construal of facts and phenomena. The accretion of evidences is to be judged from a proper perspective.
The implication is that adequate care should be taken while evaluating evidence and facts and such a 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 evidences broadly and freely.
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 ancient and important approach to the study of Political Science. These approaches mainly deals with the formal aspects of government and politics. Institutional approach is concerned with the study of the formal political structures like 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. 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 behaviour. 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 to the political science field as a whole. Many writers have argued that institutions have shaped political behaviour and social change. These authors have taken an "institutionalist" approach which treat institutions as independent variables. In the last twenty-five years, the field of comparative politics has experienced the advent of the "new institutionalism," which developed in reaction to the behavioural perspectives that exercise a significant influence on the field during the 1960s and 1970s.
The new institutionalism body can be divided into three analytical approaches:
These three theoretical approaches developed autonomously from each other.
The institutional approach to political analysis emphasises on 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.
In the descriptive-institutional approach, the stress is on facts rather than values. In other words, the approach provide factual and historical answers to such questions as;
Though, descriptive-institutional approach is slightly old, political experts still concentrate chiefly on scrutinising 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 organisation can be drawn, proposals for reform conversed and general conclusions obtainable. The approach has been critiqued for the disregard of the informed aspects of politics, norms, beliefs, values, attitudes, personality and the processes. 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 the international politics (J. C. Johari, 1982).
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 judiciary. In this approach, the study of politics is mixed with legal processes and institutions. Theme of law and justice are treated as not mere affairs of jurisprudence rather politics scientists look at 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 and essential concern of political scientists. This approach treats the state primarily as an organization for creation and enforcement of 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 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 legal process of country and the existence of 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 political behaviour of people. Though it is effective approach but not free from criticism. This approach is narrow. Law include only one aspect of people's life. It cannot cover entire behaviour 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 moulding and remoulding 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 environment into which is included international politics multinational corporations, non-governmental organisations or trans-national bodies.
The decision-making process of the nation state is influenced by international events and the political activity of other nation states. When the traditionalists were writing the nature of politics, the interdependence of national and international politics was not unknown to them and it is their failure not to recognise it. In this perspective, it can be said that traditional approach is prejudiced and incomplete. It has not the ability to meet the needs which are intensifying in the present age. Attention is to be paid to another inadequacy. The traditional approach as a method of analysing politics is lacking for the analysis of political institutions of the Third World countries, particularly the countries which do not follow the Western political system. In these countries, if researchers try to find out Western system or institutions that will be an utter failure.
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 which is quite comprehensive. The outstanding feature of traditional approaches is that there is value laden system.
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 scientific study of politics. The first innovation in this regard comes with the advent of the behavioural revolution in Political Science.
Characteristics of Modern Approaches:
They stress scientific methods of study and attempt to draw scientific conclusions in Political Science.
Political science and sociology both are social sciences and in several places they overlay. The fields of sociological studies are human behaviour including the political behaviour, group behaviour and attitude of group, culture, society. All these fall within the study area of political science. Sociological approach of politics is very popular. Most famous thinkers are Maclver, Easton. Almond recognized the important fact in this approach that ample date is available in the field of sociology so as to lay down certain empirical rules of political behaviour. Many thinkers realized that state is more of social than political institution. It means social contest is important to understand the political behaviours of individual (J. C. Johari, 1982). Another term that belongs to this approach is culture. "Culture refers to the totality of what is learned by individuals as members of society, it is a way of life a mode of thinking, acting and feeling." Culture in various ways influences the political behaviour of individuals which is the arena of investigation of political scientists.
Scholars of politics are fully aware of political culture which is composed of the attitudes, beliefs, emotions and values of society that relate to the political system and its political issues. So far as culture is concerned, it is the subject matter of both sociology and political science.
Society is another important theme of sociology and the sociologists devote a substantial part of their analysis to the exploration of various aspects of society. Students of politics also treat society with considerable emphasis. Society is composed of human beings who form intimate relationship among themselves.
The relationship is pigeonholed by both conflict and cooperation and sequentially, these give rise to politics. Individuals form institutions which are also parts of society. These institutions play vital role in moulding the character, attitudes and behaviour of individuals. Thus, both sociology and politics deal with society in its broadest standpoint. Any sociological analysis of society without its political orientation is bound to be incomplete.
Human beings constitute not only society but also group based on a network of social relationships. There are numerous sociological studies about these social relationships. Politics also studies these relationships. Politics studies only the political aspects. There are various associations or groups within every society and they are normally formed on the basis of profession.
Sociologists investigate them in a bigger perspective. The sociologist explores the relationship between behaviour pattern and social conditions. The studies of sociologists and political scientists are interdependent. A recent specialist has observed that:
"Political behaviour, political relationships and political institutions are within the realm of sociology along with other kinds of behaviour, relationships and institutions. Political science thus overlaps with sociology just as it overlaps with history and economics. Those who take a sociological approach to the study of politics give attention to the kinds of questions and the kinds of data political movements of all sorts can be studied on the basis of a sociological approach to politics".
Policy creations and legislations depend upon the sociological studies. Sociologist's studies on on crime, divorce, juvenile delinquency, conditions of slum and urbanisation give inputs to the government and legislators. Modern states are welfare states and the authorities of such states can neglect the sociological studies on the above issues only on their own threat.
There is a strong link between politics and psychology. Psychologists usually study the political behaviour of individuals and factors leading to such behaviour. They also study why certain individuals behave in a certain way. In simple form, psychology studies the behaviour, attitude of the voter and after studying various aspects, the researchers draw conclusions which very often serve the purpose of political leaders. It is not an overstatement to hold that the foundation of behaviouralism is psychology of the individuals. Presently, political scientists are eager to know how motives and emotions work in the field of political activity. Sometimes, the psychologists focus upon the group behaviour.
There are many examples available if review the history of political thought as to how psychology and politics are associated. Aristotle stated that man is by nature a social animal and his sociability is the prime reason of the emergence of political organisation which is called state. Psychology of man is that man wants to live with others.
Another influential political philosopher, Hobbes articulated that every individuals wants security and to get it, he desires to accumulate power. It is a general feeling that power only can provide security. Hobbes' political philosophy is based, to a considerable extent, upon psychological factors. He has portrayed the nature of men who lived in the state of nature. Men of the state of nature were power hungry, argumentative and envied each other.
According to Locke, people strongly desired to have freedom and right and to that end they build up a civil society. Utilitarian philosopher, Bentham studied well the psychology of the middle class people who sought to maximise their happiness. Bentham proposed their psychology through the tendency of avoiding pain and welcoming pleasure. Marx's theory of class struggle is also based on psychology.
The proletarians desire to end the exploitation let loose by the capitalists. Individuals in any society follow conflicting desires and this is the path-finder of politics. There are motives, likes and dislikes behind every type of political activity. So politics cannot be isolated from psychology.
Even in international politics, the influence of psychology is visible. The big or super-powers are involved in power politics to establish their power and enhance their image in international society. This is absolutely a psychological issue.
The idea to launch a war originates from the mind and for that reason, it has been suggested that attempts are to be made to remove that wicked idea from the mind. Statesmen of international repute are of opinion that for peace and security, it is indispensable that all sorts of fear are to be detached from the mind.
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 have highlighted the heterogeneity of interests between the classes. Classes are formed on the basis of economic interests. Capitalist's profit making motive leads to 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 and superstructure is a matter of 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 with economic approach. Interest groups or pressure groups create pressure to achieve economic objectives. Therefore, interest group politics and economic approach are mutually dependent.
This approach is also known as statistical approach. It is described as the use of numerical data so as to impart exactitude to the process of describing and analysing political phenomenon. Mere descriptive or prescriptive analysis is not enough. The subscribers to this approach demonstrate that there is a safety in numbers and researchers have to prove scientifically the validity of a proposition by making use of graph, table, and charts. Many writers use this approach in comparative politics such as Gallup, Charls Merriam, Harold Gosnell, and Lubell. They have developed sophisticated way to study electoral behaviour of people. It is said that this approach does not require any especial thematic expertise. It requires the habit of exposing in numerical terms every generalization to simple test relating to the number of people and their way of doing in some political activity (J. C. Johari, 1982).
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 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 analyse political events in isolation from other aspects of the society. To put in other 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 theses 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. 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 well-defined 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 which performs the functions of integration and adaptation both internally and externally by means of employment of legitimate physical compulsion. A political system has three important characteristics, specifically, comprehensiveness, interdependence and 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 which have specific functions. These functions are pigeonholed as input and output functions. A political system performs these in order to maintain itself.
The facts of this approaches are borrowed by political scientists from natural science as well as from cybernetics and mathematics. Simulation means the study with help of image construction or model building. Such facts are used in political communication, decision making and game theory. The political communication approach formulated by Karl Deutsch lays emphasis on how one part of the system affects another by sending messages or transmitting information. According to this approach, politics and government appear in essence as processes of steering and coordinating human efforts towards the attainment of some goals (J. C. Johari, 1982).
Decision Making Approach is another example of simulation approach. Decision making approach explores the attributes of decision makers as well as the type of influence the individuals have on the decision makers. Scholars like Richard Synder and Charles Lindblom have developed this approach. A political decision which is taken by a few political players influences a bigger society and such a decision is generally shaped by a specific situation. Therefore, it takes into account psychological and social aspects of decision makers also.
Behaviouralism is considered as contemporary approach to the study of political science. But this approach was emerged during 20th century. An important consideration of Behaviouralism has been the study of political behaviour, as an area of study within Political Science. It concentrates is on the individual as voter, leader, revolutionary, party member and the influences of the group or the political system on the individual's political behaviour.
Behviouralism stresses scientific, objective and value-free study of the political occurrences as conditioned by the environment, firmly the behaviour of the individuals involved in that phenomena. As such, it focuses on the role of the behaviour of the individual at various levels and the scientific analysis. Behaviouralism is the development of method against traditional political science which did not take into account if human behaviour as an actor in politics.
Behaviouralism is quite different from behaviourism. 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 the feelings, ideas and prejudices. David Easton differentiates between behaviourism and behaviouralism through an example. The paradigm adopted by behaviourists, according to him is S- R (Stimulus-Response). But the behavioural lists have improved it by making it as S-O-R (Stimulus-Organism-Response). David Easton regards behavioural revolution is an intellectual tendency on the part of the political scientists to study empirically the political behaviour of persons.
Striking Features of Behaviouralism:
David Easton has described certain key features of behaviouralism which are regarded as its intellectual foundations. These are:
Consequently, with the development of behaviouralism, novel thinking and new method of study were evolved in the field of Political Science.
Advantages of behavioural approach are as follows:
The behavioural approach has been supported by different political philosophers. However, the Behavioural approach also gripped under various criticisms for its scienticism also. The main criticisms of this approach are mentioned below:
- Furthermore, the researcher being a human being is not always value neutral as believed by the behaviouralists.
Other criticisms by political thinkers are as under:
Post behaviourism: The progress of behavioural movement in Political Science is one of the important breakthroughs in the history of Political Science. The growth of behaviouralism clearly presented a scientific dynamism in the study of political phenomena. Nevertheless, after sometime, it began to be realized that unlike natural sciences, generalizations could not be made in the field of social sciences, as the study of man in the societal framework was a far more complex pursuit than the study of objects in the natural sciences. Therefore, a new thinking emerged among the behaviouralists for transforming behaviouralism.
David Easton who was a faithful supporter of behaviouralism later became a strong opponent of behaviouralism. In his presidential address to the Annual Convention of the American Political Science Association held in 1969, David Easton avowed that he felt unhappy with the political research and teaching made under the impact of behaviouralism. He further said that because of excessive use of mathematics, Political Science looked more of mathematics instead of social science and that it does not study the current and contemporary world.
Behaviouralism also disappointed people as it is unsuccessful in providing solutions to many social and political problems. Such dissatisfaction has led to the emergence of post- behaviouralism. This new approach believed that mere use of refined techniques and research tools would not solve the social and political problems of the world. Therefore, post-behaviouralists criticized the idea of behaviouralists to make Political Science a value-free science like other natural sciences. Post-behaviouralists attempted to make Political Science pertinent to the society. However, it must be recalled that post-behaviouralism cannot be separated from behviouralism as it has arose from behaviouralism. Through, using different techniques and methods, post-behaviouralists try to overcome the disadvantages of behaviouralism and make the study of Political Science more applicable to the society.
According to post-behaviouralism, the use of scientific tools is valuable if it can solve the various problems of the society. Behaviouralists gave too much emphasis on methods and techniques and believed that it was better to be wrong than ambiguous. On the contrary, Post-behaviouralists believe that it is better to be vague than non-relevantly precise. The post-behaviouralists disapproved behaviouralism on the basis that the latter had lost touch with the realities of the society because of over emphasis on techniques. Thus, post-behaviouralists may be regarded as the reform movement within behaviouralism. This new approach stresses identifying and solving the major issues of political and social life. According to post-behaviouralism, the political scientists should find out different alternatives and means to solve the social problems. Consequently, the main drive of post-behaviouralism has been to make Political Science significant to the society. However, it is noted that it is only a perpetuation of behaviouralism. It does not overall reject the ideas of behaviouralism. It recognizes the achievement of behaviouralism and escalates its effort to do objective research in Political Science. It only attempts to bring research in Political Science closer to reality to make the subject more relevant to the society. Accordingly, the post-behaviouralists opposed the efforts of the behaviouralists to make Political Science a value-free science. It was debated by the post-behaviouralists that Political Science must consider basic issues of society such as justice, liberty, equality, democracy to make research relevant to the society. The post-behaviouralists have described behaviouralism as a 'mad craze for scienticism'. Thus, the post-behaviouralism is an improvement of behaviouralism as it changes its focus strictly from empirical research to resolving problems confronting the society.
Marxian approach to politics is not limited to the writings of Marx, Engels and Lenin but all those of a congregation of later writers such as Luxemburg, Trotsky, Gramsci and many others. Further, an explicitly 'political' treatise cannot be found in the whole range of classical Marxist texts. Miliband indicated that "a Marxist politics had to be constructed or reconstructed from the mass of variegated and fragmented material which forms the corpus of Marxism."
Marx views on Individual:
Marx stated that the individual is individual-in-society. Individual has no identity without the society. Marx described that "society does not consist of individuals, but expresses the sum of inter-relations, the relations within which these individuals stand." As such, Marx is different from the liberal view which conceives individual as atomized, insular and self-contained.
Views of Marx on Society:
Marxists specified that all societies in history have been class societies. The contending classes from 'freeman and slave, patrician and plebian, lord and serf, guild-master and journeyman to bourgeoisie and proletariat in the period of capitalism have stood in constant opposition to one another. All class societies are characterized by supremacy and conflict which are based on specific, concrete features of their mode of production. Class domination has been a historical process suggesting a constant attempt on the part of the dominant classes to maintain and extend their power on the society.
Marx on Politics:
Marxist opined that politics can be understood only with reference to the nature of prevailing societal conflict and domination. Politics, as such, conceived in terms of the 'specific articulation of class struggles.' In general, in Marxian view politics has a derivative and epiphenomenal character. The political life processes are considered as part of 'superstructure' standing on the economic structure of society. The subsidiary and derivative character of politics can be well inferred from the following quotation from the 'Preface' to a contribution to the criticism of Political Economy:
"In the social production of their existence, men enter into definite, necessary relations, which are independent of their will, namely, relations of production corresponding to a determinate stage of development of their material forces of production. The totality of these relations of production constitutes the economic structure of society, the real foundation on which arises a legal and political superstructure and to which there correspond definite forms of social consciousness. The mode of production of social consciousness. The mode of production of material life conditions the social, political and intellectual life-process in general."
According to Marx, Politics, economics, culture and ideology are all inseparably interweaved. The 'forces of production' at a particular stage of historical development, are harmonized by definite 'relations of production' that characterize the society. The relations of production taken together constitute the economic foundation of the society. The legal and political institutions stand on this "real foundation" of economic structure.
From the Marxist perspective, the real nature of politics, has to be assumed from "the hidden basis of the entire social structure." Ralph Miliband stated that politics is 'a very determined and conditioned activity indeed so determined' and 'conditioned' in fact, as to give politics a mostly derivative, subsidiary, and 'epiphenomenal' character."
It is well recognized that Marx put more emphasis on the materialistic or economic interpretation of history. He stated that the capitalists by controlling the means of production and distribution also controlled not only the political but social and economic structure of the society as well. He stressed economic aspect of life. According to him, every other activity in the society revolved round economics. All social and political activities are based on economic activity.
According to this approach, the 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 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 policy making and implementation. These output functions are rule making, rule application and rule adjudication. Therefore, Almond believes that a stable and efficient political system converts inputs into outputs.
This approach examines how one segment of a system affects another by sending messages or information. Robert Weiner first defined this approach. Later on, Karl Deutsch developed it and applied it in Political Science. Deutsch believes that the political system is a system of communication channels and it is self-regulative. He further stated that the government is responsible for overseeing different communication channels. This approach treats the government as the decision making system. According to Deutsch, the four factors of analysis in communication theory are; lead, lag, gain and load.
In political studies, it is observed that there is no single approach that effectively describe every phenomenon or issue. Each of these approaches have their strength and weaknesses. A wide-ranging approach is more desirable as researchers embark on description or analysis of political events and issues.
Two major strategies are used in comparative research are as under:
1. Most Similar Systems Design/Mill's Method of Difference: It compares very similar cases which only differ in the dependent variable, on the supposition that this would make it easier to discover those independent variables which explain the presence/absence of the dependent variable. Most Similar Systems Design abbreviated as MSSD, is very supportive since it compares similar objects, it keeps many otherwise confusing and irrelevant variables in the research constant. Fundamentally, MSSD begins with similar variables between subjects and attempts to explore why the outcome is different between the subjects. The main limitation of this method is that when comparing countries, all potential factors of explanation can never be kept altogether constant. As such, despite many possibilities of variables, there are only a limited number of cases to apply them to. There are two methods of applying MSSD, the first being a stricter application and the second being a more loose application. The stricter application infers that a investigator would choose various countries that have a number of similar variables, also called control variables, and would only different from each other by one single independent variable. The looser application uses the same general notion, but the investigator chooses countries that have similar characteristics but those characteristics are not firmly matched to a set of control variables. Because of the difficulties of so many variables, a second method was decentralised to be used in conjunction with MSSD.
Most Different Systems Design/Mill's Method of Similarity: This method compare very different cases, all of which have in common the same dependent variable, so that any other circumstance which is present in all the cases can be regarded as the independent variable. Most Different Systems Design, abbreviated as MDSD, differs from MSSD in some way that it does not take a strict variable application. MDSD uses differences between countries instead of similarities between countries as variables because social scientists have found that differences between countries do not explain their possible similarities if they have any. Major concept of MDSD is that it takes subjects with different variables within them and tries to work out why the outcomes between them are similar in the end. When using MDSD as a comparative research method, political scientists observe changing interactions between systems in countries and when all data is collected, the results are compared between the different systems. If the results obtained from this research differ between each other, the researcher must move up to the system level and switch to the MSSD method. When using MSSD as a comparative research approach, there is the independent and dependent variable that get introduced, specifically the dependent variable being something that is common in all the research subjects and the independent variable which would be the differing characteristic between the research subjects. MSSD is more accurate and strict to find the differing point along with similarities, but MDSD does not have so many variables and only focuses on finding one similarity or difference between broad selections of systems.
Major contribution of political thinkers in comparative politics:
Aristotle: His famous writing, The Politics, compares different "constitutions", by introducing a famous typology based on two criteria, the number of rulers (one, few, many) and the nature of the political regime (good or corrupt). Thus he distinguished six different kinds of "constitutions": monarchy, aristocracy, and polity (good types), versus tyranny, oligarchy and democracy (corrupt types).
Gabriel Almond and Sidney Verba: In the work of these political theorists, The Civic Culture, Almond and Verba embark on the first major cross-national survey of attitudes to determine the role of political culture to maintain the stability of democratic regimes.
Robert A. Dahl: He made great contribution in "The Concept of Power" (1957) in the field of political science. Dahl developed an operational definition of power that was frequently cited as an important insight into the phenomenon. According to Dahl, "A has power over B to the extent that he can get B to do something that B would not otherwise do. Dahl familiarized the term polyarchy to characterize American politics and other political systems that are open, inclusive, and competitive (Polyarchy, 1971). The notion allowed him to make a distinction between an ideal system of democracy and institutional arrangements that approximate this ideal. Therefore, polyarchies are based on the principle of representative rather than direct democracy and therefore constitute a form of minority rule, yet they are also democratized systems that limit the power of elite groups through institutions such as regular and free elections.
Montesquieu: He is well known political philosopher and articulated the theory of separation of powers, which is implemented in many constitutions throughout the world. He is also known for doing more than any other author to secure the place of the word despotism in the political lexicon. Montesquieu's The Spirit of the Laws was "the first consistent attempt to survey the varieties of human society, to classify and compare them and, within society, to study the inter-functioning of institutions.
Barrington Moore: In Social Origins of Dictatorship and Democracy: Lord and Peasant in the Making of the Modern World (1966), Moore compares rebellions in countries such as England, Russia and Japan (among others). His proposition is that mass-led revolutions dispossess the landed elite and result in Communism, and that revolutions by the elite result in Fascism. It is only revolutions by the bourgeoisie that result in democratic governance. For the outlier case of India, practices of the Mogul Empire, British Imperial rule and the Caste System are quoted.
James C. Scott: He is comparative researcher of agrarian and non-state societies, subaltern politics, and anarchism. His famous political work was The Art of Not Being Governed. In The Art of Not Being Governed: An Anarchist History of Upland Southeast Asia, Scott wrote that "All identities, without exception, have been socially constructed: the Han, the Burman, the American, the Danish, all of them, to the degree that the identity is stigmatized by the larger state or society, it is likely to become for many a resistant and defiant identity. Here invented identities combine with self-making of a heroic kind, in which such identifications become a badge of honour".
Alexis de Tocqueville: His work has not been extensively analysed from the viewpoint of comparative analysis, even though his comparative emphasis is widely respected. The classic works of Tocqueville was Democracy in America and The Old Regime and the French Revolution as a single study in comparative sociological paradigm (Ivan Vallier, 1973).
Samuel P. Huntington: He was an influential political scientist, contributed in the whole field of political science, from the deeply theoretical to the intensely applied. His 1969 book, "Political Order in Changing Societies," is widely regarded as a landmark analysis of political and economic development in the Third World. His another magnificent work was The Third "Wave and Political Order in Changing Societies" in which he looked at similar questions from a different perspective, namely, that the form of the political regime, democracy or dictatorship.
Arend Lijphart: He was is a political scientist focussing in comparative politics, elections and voting systems, democratic institutions, and ethnicity and politics.
Patterns of Democracy (1999), was famous work of Lijphart which was a comprehensive study of democracies around the world.
Juan Linz & Alfred Stepan: They have contributed their writing in comparative politics as Problems of Democratic Transition and Consolidation: Southern Europe, South America, and Post-Communist Europe.
Seymour Martin Lipset: He was an American sociologist and political scientist, who got fame globally for his work in social structures, comparative politics, labour unions, and public opinion. His famous writing was "Political Man: The Social Basis of Politics (1960)"
Pippa Norris: He was lecturer in comparative politics. His famous work was" Critical citizens (1999)".
Robert D. Putnam: Making Democracy Work (1993) was a major work evaluating why some democratic governments work and other fail, based on the study of the Italian regional governments.
Theda Skocpol: In States and Social Revolutions: A Comparative Analysis of France, Russia, and China, Theda Skocpol compares the major revolutions of France, Russia and China: three basically similar events which took place in three very different contexts. Main objective of Skopcol was to find possible similarities which might help explain the occurrence of political revolution. From this perspective, this work signifies a good example of a research conducted according to the Most Different Systems Design.
Giovanni Sartori: He was an Italian political scientist expert in the study of democracy and comparative politics. His famous writing was "Parties and party systems".
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 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.