Lecture №1 Theme: subject of political science icon

Lecture №1 Theme: subject of political science

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Essence and types of politics.

Means and functions of politics.

Subject, basic methods and functions of political science.

«History is it a last politics,

politics is a present history».



Public life is presented by numerous interconnected spheres. The largest of them are political, economic, social and cultural ones. Each of these spheres represents certain system with its type of organisation and management, with its laws of development and traditions. The given systems are studied by corresponding humanitarian and social sciences. Political system is one of the largest and complex among them. In its framework, key political processes appear and develop, decions important for destiny of the society are made and carried out. Therefore it is not surprising that this system draws to some extent attention of representatives of various social sciences. However, specially and in complex, as a part of all components of the political system it is studied only by one science - POLITICAL SCIENCE.

Polis is a Greek city-state;

Politics is a process of state governing

Politiea is constitution;

Politics is a process of governing of citizens on the basis of laws;

Politike is an art of state governing;

Polites - citizens

The term "politics" appeared more than two and a half millenia ago and derives from Greek "politik" - an art of state governing. Most scientists connect with the name of a great thinker of the Ancient Greece, Aristotle and his work «Politia». Aristotle considered politics as a form of people's community, common cause and welfare. Plato believed politics was an art to live together. One of the founders of political science Machiavelli characterised politics as a set of means necessary to come to power, to keep it.

The concept of politics is many-sided.

Politics as a public phenomenon appears together with state formation, and state appears with division of the society into social groups, classes, i.e. it appears at that stage of development of the society which is characterised by social, ethnic, religious differentiation. Thus, genetically, the period of occurrence of politics coincides with formation of social groups. Presence, antagonism, cooperation of social groups indeed was a basis of formation of state and politics and acted as a political forming basis.

Policy is an activity of social groups and individuals on articulation (comprehension and representation) their contradictory collective interests, development of decisions obligatory for the whole society, carried out by means of power.

Policy - is special sphere of people's life, mutual relations of different social groups and individuals for the purpose of use of institutes of the public power for carrying out socially significant interests and requirements.

Politics, according to M. Weber, “means aspiration to participation in power or influence on power distribution either within the state between the groups of people it includes or between the states.”

^ Generalising various approaches, it is possible to define that

POLITICS is a set of relationship between groups of people, each of which aspires to gain, keep and use the state power.

The first political institute is a state. It was founded as a natural requirement for regulating interests of different social groups.

The purpose of state activity is reconciliation of the contradictory parties and preservation of territorial integrity of the state.


the State

Bodies of the state power are represented by 3 branches of power:

Legislative: parliament (in Ukraine it is the Supreme Council).

Executive: government (in Ukraine it is Cabinet of Ministers), Ministries (for example, Ministry of Health) and departments, regional, city administrations.

Judicial: courts of all levels.

The president and his Administration do not belong to any of 3 branches of power (in Ukraine)

political parties

any political associations

mass media of a political character

POLICY differs according to:

- spheres of a public life (economic, social, ethnonational, cultural in the field of the state system and development of democracy, policy in spiritual-ideological sphere, policy in public health service)

scales (international, local, regional)

orientation (external, internal)

subjects (policy of the state, party, social movement, association)

character of actions (progressive, conservative, reactionary)

The elements of policy are:

political power, relations within this power - domination and submission, political rivalry, struggle.

political relations and political activity displays character of interaction of social groups with institutes of power, political process.

political consciousness including private world, mentality, value orientations and purposes of individuals, stereotypes, customs and traditions, political views, ideas and theories, political psychology and political ideology. It shows dependence of political life on the conscious relation of people to their interests.

standard ideas are programs and election platforms of political parties, purposes of groups of interests, political rules of law.

political organisation, i.e. institutes of power and struggle for it. It characterises a role of institutes of public power as control and regulation centres of public processes. It includes such components: set of bodies of legislative, executive and judicial branches of power, party and social-political institutes, organisations and movements

political requirements and interests

Besides, there are 4 levels of politics:

1. microlevel - separate personalities in politics

2. mesalevel - covers separate organisations: parties, trade unions, corporations, firms, etc.

3. macrolevel - includes the state as a whole, public compulsory power, its structure and functioning

4. megalevel - activity of the international organisations: the United Nations, NATO, EU, UNESCO, etc.


Main system formation factor of political life of the society is political interests. Politics begins and comes to an end with them. There is no politics without interests and vice versa, where the trivial situation leads to collision of interests of people, relations between people get a political shade so, there appears a necessity of intervention of political institutes.

Basic principle of politics is interest - objectively caused motive of activity of a person, social community, society as a whole, directed on achievement of a definite purpose. This purpose is always power.

Means of policy: force, right, morals.

Force is a set of material and organizational ways of pressure and violence (opened and hidden)

Right is a result of compromise of social interests of all groups of population for the purpose of their harmonisation.

^ Morals are set of values and norms of behaviour

Ideal policy is policy of values consistently defending its ideals;

Real policy is policy of interests, free from moral-ethical values;

In democratic states law supervises force, and morals supervise law.

According to Machiavelli, aim justifies the means (it takes morals beyond policy).

^ Functions of policy:

1 Maintenance, strengthening of integrity of the society as complex differentiated system, society integration, public order and organisation maintenance, creation of favourable conditions for effective functioning of all links of public system.

2 Working out of strategic targets of the whole society (it is expressed, first of all, in governmental programs, organisations of the masses and mobilisation of resources on realisation of these purposes. Expression of imperiously significant interests of all groups and levels of population. Maintenance social development innovation.

^ 3 Realization of authoritative (imperious) distribution of the basic social values such as different material and non-material objects, social benefits and advantages. Distribution of the basic scarce values and benifits is carried out first of all through passing of the state budget. Governing and management of public processes

4 Designing of complex social objects (communicative function), socialisation of the person.

^ 5 Prevention and regulation of group conflicts, their transfer into civilised dialogue of citizens and the state

6 except these tasks inherent to some extent to any society, politics carries out also a number of specific functions, characteristic of certain types of social systems:

It is support of class or social domination; protection of basic human rights; attraction of citizens to state governing and public affairs; social justice and general welfare maintenance.


Political science is a science studying political organisation and political life of the society, problems of internal policy and international relations;

Political science - is a science about laws and basic tendencies of political processes.

Object of political science is politics,

Subject matter is laws and tendencies of political processes.


There exist two levels of methodological researches in modern political science: theoretical and applied. Which method to choose depends, as a rule, on a research orientation.

If we speak about theoretical methods of research we should mention such methods as:

^ General logic method which is most widespread in any scientific research. It includes various elements: induction and deduction, analysis and synthesis, abstraction, generalisation, analogy, mental experiment.

Comparative method is one of the major methods in political science as the most thorough political analysis and science conclusions can be made only by comparison of various political systems, various forms of governing, methods and ways of realisation of power etc. Comparative method can and should be used by political science from the point of view of revealing of methodology of the science itself used by various schools and directions of the world science.

Sociological method in political science can have double nature. Firstly, these are theoretical aspects of consideration from the point of view of the general sociology of politics. Secondly, it is working out of concrete sociological researches. As a rule, it is connected with applied researches, working out of sociological techniques both for the analysis of the concrete political phenomena (for example, rating of political leaders or parties) and for political management and marketing.

Historical method in political science is as important as any other theoretical method. Historical retrospective show gives a huge material for historical comparisons and analogies, furnishes the clue for understanding of mentality of the concrete state, its traditions and customs, stereotypes of political consciousness and behaviour, helps to understand essence of occurring processes at the present stage.

^ System method in political science considers any political event from the point of view of the analysis of social-political system. The purpose of this analysis is revealing of interrelations and interdependence of separate elements of object of research, whether it is political system, the constitution, state or something else.

^ Psychological method in political science has as an purpose of research:

Political behaviour of separate persons and political leaders in a concrete situation (it is behavioral method);

Political behaviour of groups, movements, parties in a modelled political situation (behavioral approach);

Behaviour of political system in conditions of influence on it of adverse factors and possible variants of its transformation in further (post-behavioral analysis);

Political consciousness and its stereotypes of different levels of population, revealing of political purposes and their social conditionality, revealing of habitual connections, characteristic behaviour, process of political socialisation, political explosions of public consciousness and their conditionality, ways of suppression of political activity etc (socio-psychological approach in political science).

Institutional method of political science is directly engaged in studying of the whole spectrum of the state institutes, political and judicial rules of development, parliamentary activity of the state, regulations, division of power into various branches and specification of their obligation etc. All this is possible to describe with one word - state governing.

^ Decision-making method

Behaviourism is a bridge between general-theoretical and applied methods. Such direction as behaviourism appeared in the American political science on a boundary of two centuries - 19th and 20th and represents new methodology in social studies. It is based on idea of unity of science and possible ways of human cognition through experience and its logic generalisation. Cognition demands the analysis of the real facts possible to be checked. All scientific theories are deduced from hypotheses generalising empirical knowledge. Scientific character of the theory follows from verification, i.e. from possibility to check up the theory with the help of experience. Thus, political science should study directly observed political behaviour of people with the help of scientific-experimental empirical methods. Personified change of politics should be based on the analysis of an individual and group behaviour under review, on the analysis of its motives, on differentiation of the facts and values, as the researcher should be free from personal predilections, political interests and political pressure. There should be only facts and logic in the basis of research. Accordingly, in political science not only is it possible, but also it is necessary to use methods of other sciences. For example, mathematical methods, statistical data, results of sociological polls and questioning, computer modelling in general. All these methods have got applied character since they are directed at solving of practical political problems. It creates two-sidedness of vector of the political research. One end of this vector is directed at policy as a sphere of life of the society, other one - at the plane of crossing of personal interests and strong-willed aspirations of various groups, parties, movements, organisations, establishments and institutes. In applied political science theoretical conclusions and regulations, such as essence of power, democracy, political and state etc are not always used.

On the other hand, applied political science removes uncertainty of theoretical conclusions, representing rich empirical material revealing character of politological leaders, ruling and oppositional elite. Distinctive features of these or those political systems, state institutes, political systems, character of decision-making process, essence of current political events and processes are revealed.

Difference of applied researches is practical recommendations for the present moment, conclusions about advantages of management methods and behaviour of political leaders and parties, formation of political image, technology of process of political elections etc. Specialists in applied political science are analysts and experts of the various political-analytical centres, advisers of political leaders, image makers, experts in marketing and so forth. Centers and institutes of the political analysis exist not only at interstate level, but also at the international. They solve concrete political problems, modelling various situations in various regions of the world, analyzing possibility and impossibility of using military force for giving recommendations for solving political and geopolitical conflicts of different levels etc. Conclusions of applied researches enrich the theory and are a component of political science, with the only difference that they use inductive methods and micro political means of research. Such methods are:

^ Supervision and ascertaining of facts. It is tracing of events and results of decisions in the course of long-term further development. Sometimes it looks like immersing in situation, movement, group, party for the purpose of tracing of events from within. Result of supervision and ascertaining is the information which should carry authentic and independent of interests and liking of the observer character.

Content-analysis. This method is based on the analysis of texts, documents, programs, instructions, laws, articles, slogans etc. Frequency of use of the keywords, concerning object of research is tracked. In this case the object of research can be: a politician, a party, political value and management methods and many other things. In other words there is an an independent expert appraisal on a politician or political phenomenon from the point of view of material giving.

^ Interrogation and interviewing of separate citizens by questioning with the subsequent generalisation and ordering of data, using mathematical, computer and statistical ways of processing of material for the purpose of getting representative conclusions and forecasts.

Game methods are used for preliminary playing of administrative situations to have possibility to predict not only variants of the future strategy, but also variants of tactical development of a situation. Game method imitates a situation for the purpose of preparation of the administrative personnel for decision-making.

Applied methods of research, list of which could be continued, possess steady importance for state policy formation in different spheres of life of society. With their help, the current policy and its problems on prospect are specified, purposes of the future development are predicted. There are different problems applied science is engaged in: technology of eliminating political conflicts, negotiating processes in different occasions which can include the whole arsenal of various methods, political marketing on the eve of elections to legislative and executive bodies of power and, of course, decision-making. Applied political science and theoretical one supplement each other, enriching with important conclusions, applied and theoretical workings out.

Political science functions:

Theory-cognitive (Epistemo-logical) (expands an intellectual scope, gives new data about political life of the society)

Methodological (includes ways, methods and principles of theoretical research of politics and practical realisation of the received knowledge)

World view (defines norms of civilised political behaviour, influences ability to estimate political actions)

Forecasting (it is directed at prediction of ways of development of political processes)


Applied (provides defining of practical steps, use of political science concepts in a life)


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