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Q.1-What is Political Theory and what is its relevance?
Ques1 Political Science Assignment Answer – Introduction to Political Theory Solved Assignment
The word ‘Political’ has multiple meanings. It derived from the Greek word ‘polis’. It meant city-state, presently it means the state. More specifically, it refers to decision-making within and about the community. To be political, to live in the polis, as Hannah Arendt tells us, means that everything is to be decided through words and persuasion and not through force and violence. Meaning of the term ‘political’ can be understood through the following points :
(a) The collective power to take decisions about every aspect of the good life in the community.
(b) The power of some groups to control or subordinate others in order to realize not the good of the entire community but their own narrow interests. Here, the term ‘political’ is used to relate power and self-interest.
Ques1 Political Science Assignment Answer
(c) The state power used to realize the common good or values.
(d) The state power used to exercise domination by one group overothers. Thus, today we used the term ‘political’ in each of the above points and as both an empirical and normative concept.
The word ‘theory’ has been derived from the Greek word ‘theoria’. It means a well focused mental outlook taken at something in a settle of contemplation with the intent to grasp it. It is generally considered as a separate branch of political science
NATURE OF POLITICAL THEORY
Political theory is closely related to the nature of state, the authority, the structure of the state, the interaction of the state with its environment. Political theory also relates with the works of political thinkers. But, this tends political theory to mean more of political thought. Some equate political theory with political science and political philosophy. Dwelling on the nature of political theory, George Catlin significantly observed : “The theory (of politics) itself is divided into political science and political philosophy.
POLITICAL THEORY : ITS GROWTH AND VARIOUS STREAMS/ SCHOOLS
During its history of more than 2500 years various traditions and streams have been developed. All the streams have their own specific features. We shall now discuss some major schools of political thought which have shaped in the development of various concepts of political theory. These are as follows :
Classical Political Theory
Classical political theory starts from the 6th Century B.C. It explains the
political ideas of a large number of philosophers from Greek, Roman and Christian thinkers. Plato and Aristotle are the two great philosophers of the classical period. Classical ideas of political theory included politics, the idea of theory, and the practice of philosophy. Classical Philosophers seems politics as the participation in the public affairs. They believe that theory referred to the systematic knowledge through the methods of observation, while philosophy referred to the quest for the reliable knowledge. The nature of classical political theory included description, explanation, prescription and evaluation. The classical theory believed in ultimate good as well as in political good. The classical political theorist believed that state as a natural institution and prior to the individual and common good.
Liberal Political Theory
From 15th Century onwards, the twin revolutions of Renaissance and
Reformation in the Europe, developed the new intellectual atmosphere which resulted the birth of modern science and modern philosophy and a new political theory known as liberalism. The liberal political theory found classical expression in the writings of Grotious, Hobbes, John Locke, Thomas Jefferson, Thomas Paine, Jeremy Bentham, John Stuart Mill, Herbert Spencer and others ). The central theme of liberal political theory was individualism. The theory does not believe the idea of common good and focused an organic self- interested community. The theory also gave the idea that the best government is who governs the least, because maximum functions of the state can be harmful for the individual freedom.
Marxist Political Theory
Karl Marx, Engles and their followers was challenged Liberal individualistic political theory in the later half of the nineteenth century. Theory according to Marx is the hand-maiden of practical material interests. Communist theory of Marx is not mere description or explanation of the realities of human life and society, or even prediction of what is to come, but the necessary weapon for the demolition of class society and a blueprint for establishing a new world, based on the knowledge that man can create himself. Marx believed in the unity of theory and practice as he pointed that ‘it is consciousness that determines life, but life that determines consciousness’.
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It is the material societal development which has created the false distinction between theory and practice, spirit and matter, this-worldly and other – worldly existence . Marxism introduced a new concept of philosophy conceived as a way to the liberation of mankind. Marxist theory opposed liberal-capitalism on the ground that the idea of this theory about property, equality, freedom and family fortune benefited only for have classes and becomes a most
degrading condition for the vast number of have-not classes.
Empirical-Scientific Political Theory
Empirical scientific political theory was developed in America during the decade of 1920s. This school of theory based upon facts, rather than values and studies politics through scientific method instead of normative method. Max Weber, Graham Wallas and Arthur Bentlay studied political theory by the empirical-scientific methods and advocates that the study of political theory should be based upon only
George Catlin emphasized inter-disciplinary study of political theory meaning that the political science should be integrated with other social sciences such as Economics, sociology, psychology, anthropology etc. After the second world-war the Chicago School developed behavioral theory. Charles Merriam, Harold Laswell,
Gosnell, David Easton, V.O. Key and David Apter were the chief exponent of this theory. Behavioral theory emphasis the study of politics through political ideals, values and institutions in the context of individual and group behavior
RELEVANCE OF POLITICAL THEORY
The relevance of political theory can be well understood from the purpose it serves and the task it performs. Political theory may be seen as a system of values, norms and ideas on forming an organization, social, political, cultural etc. They help us to understand the political reality. It enables us to speculate about the nature of good life, the appropriate political institutions needed to realize it. The relevance of
political theory could be tested in relation to
(i) A description of the political phenomena
(ii) A non-scientific (based on philosophy and religion) speculation or a
scientific (based on empirical studies) analysis or explanation
(iii) Political goals and political action, (iv) Ethico-normative and moral judgment. Essays on political theory propounded in Plato’s Republic, Issiah Berlin’s Liberty or Rawls’ A theory of Justice or Nozick’s Anarchy,State and Utopia can be cited as some example to the
relevance of political theory.
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The significance of political of theory lies in evolving various doctrines and approaches regarding the nature and purpose of the state, the basis of political authority, vision of an ideal state, best form of government, relations between the state and the individual and the basic issues such as rights, liberty, equality, property, justice etc. political theory is based upon such generalizations which are made possible to politics through the political thinkers and philosophers. These thinkers presented new kinds of solutions to overcome new problems born out of changing conditions and environments.
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Therefore, political theory not only presents solutions to resolve the existing problems but also provide estimate of future conditions. Political theory encourages a dignified debate between upholders of different points of view. Most political philosophers form ancient time have been dwelling on some common problems and giving us a new insight. Therefore, it can be understood that political theory generate mutual respect and toleration among us
and prompts us to resolve our differences. Political theorist also gives us the clarity
about the concept through complete analytical study. Thus, the interpretation and analysis of theorist provide clarity to political values and ideologies and makes it possible to protect from possible misinterpretation and misrepresentation. David Held views the task of political theorist as really demanding. He sees a danger that, politics will be left to the ignorant and self seeking whose concern is only pursuing it as power rather than instrument of selfless service. In short the relevance of political theory consist in the following points :
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(i) About the nature and purpose of state, and government relationship of individual, authority and state, political theory provides systematic thinking for these areas.
(ii) About the socio-political ideals and the socio-political phenomena political theory helps us to establish a correlation between them.
(ii) It helps us to know the nature and ends of the socio-economic system and the stages of its evolution through the ages.
(iv) It makes the individual conscious of his rights and duties in a state or a society.
Ques1 Political Science Assignment Answer
(v) It helps to find solutions to problems like poverty, violence, corruption, ethnicity, etc.
(vi) As Karl Marx said, the task of political theory is not only to understand and explain the social reality but also to change it. Viewed in this light, political theory helps us to evolve ways and means to change society either through
reform or revolution.
(vii) If political theory performs its desirable function, then the people will be equipped with the instruments of struggle for their advancement. The correct political theories may make us choose right goals and means so as to avoid the roads that end in darkness of despair (Gandhi : 2007 : 42-43).
(viii) It tells us about the past, present and future of politics in a rational way.
(ix) It helps the comparison of different political systems and helps in evacuating our own system.
(x) It encourages a dignified debate between upholders of different points of view. It is a source of mutual respect and toleration between the political thinkers and academicians.
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which attempts to arrive at generalizations and draws inferences or conclusions from the data gathered by various specialists relating to political phenomena. As a term ‘political theory’ has been defined in both “a broad” and “a narrow” sense. Sebine defines it, “as anything about politics or relevant to politics”. That is his broad definition of political theory. He also has given the narrow definition as “the
disciplined investigation of political problems”.
“The function of political theory has come to be restricted to the analysis and clarification of the vocabulary of politics and the critical examination, verification and justification of the concepts employed in political arguments”. Norman Berry defines that “political theory is an electric subject which draws upon a variety of disciplines.
There is nobody of knowledge or method of analysis which can be classified as belonging exclusively to political theory”. The above definitions bring out certain essential characteristics of political theory which are as follows :
(a) Political theory has as its area of operation, the realm of politics. It includes citizen’s political life, political behavior, political ideas, the governments he establishes and the task that government performs.
(b) The methods which political theory applies, includes description, explanation, prediction and investigation of any political phenomenon chiefly with intent to grasp or comprehended all about what is ‘political’.
Ques1 Political Science Assignment Answer
(c) The ultimate objective of political theory is to construct a better state in a good society. In the process it also attempts to create certain processes, procedures, structures and institutions, which historically tested and rationally attuned.
(d) As a systematized body of thought, political theory is about to explain, evaluate and predict political phenomena. In the process political theory also builds scientifically testable models as well as values as rules of human conduct.
(e) The functions of political theory are prescriptive and explanatory. It is a description of what the ‘political order’ is about and it is also a symbolic representation of what is ‘political’.
(f) As the systematic and analytical study of the processes and consequences of political activity, it is both analytical expository, and explanatory. Thus, political theory seek to give order, clarity and meaning to understand what is described as ‘political’ .
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