George B. de Huszar and Thomas H. Stevenson (1968) in their book, “political studies” defined political science as the field of study concerned primarily with the power relationships between men, among men and the state, and among states. It therefore involves human control, regulation and influence.
Sometimes, political science confines itself entirely on governmental considerations, while today, it focuses on the investigation of the economics, social and geographical conditions underlying governmental phenomena.
In another attempt to define political science, Rodee, et al, in his book, introduction to political science, quoted Jean Bodin (1530-1596), a French political philosopher and a lawyer who explained the term political science as “an organization of institutions related to law”.
Again, in the traditional view point, political science is defined as that branch of social science that concerns itself with political aspect of social phenomena, that its study center around the state; while other traditionalist think that it deals with the government.
Furthermore, Dr. Felix C. Asoqwa and Dilichukwu A. Omenma (2001), in their book, Modern dictionary of political science, defined political science as the academic discipline, that is concerned with the study of government and politics.
Political science, therefore studies the functions performed by government e.g. legislation and administration of the law as well as the behavior of voters, the operation of political parties, the influence of political organizations and other factors in the functioning of the state.
Finally, some political scientist, like Alfred de Gracia and Charles Hyneman maintained that political science is the study of “the event that happened around the decision making apparatus of the governments and that part of the affairs of the state that centers on government and speaks through the law.
Method of Studying Political Science
- The philosophical method:
This approach focuses on determining ultimate reality and mans relationship with the universe thereby providing social political analysis with a sense of direction.
It examines critically the social, political milieu/environment through which the institution and policies of the Socrates world would be intelligently evaluated.
Under this theory, such questions like “how shall men be governed and for what purpose, are usually asked, answers to such questions usually leads to analysis, criticism, classification and discovery of relevant truth and generalization.
- Legal institution method:
Legalism is concerned with the formal constitutional framework of government. The legal institution method focuses on the analysis of the law creating or establishing institution and the power and right of such institution. Example of such institution includes political parties, parliament, the civil service etc.
- The historical methods:
This focuses on the study of past records of social phenomenon and providing political scientist with records of past experience of political actors. It is believed that certain lessons should be learned from history which when analyzed could help provide a good base for present political process.
- Behavioral method:
This method is of the view that human beings are the prime mover of the society and therefore greater attention should be paid to human behavior in the study of political science.
- The scientific method:
This method advocates for logical, systematic and integrated process of collecting and analyzing data with the aim of providing understanding, explanation and prediction. The scientific method is characterized by the principle of determinism, systematic nature and objectiveness
- Economic method:
This is the application of economic theory to politics. The component of this theory argued that the political process is a process of exchange. Under this theory, politics is viewed as a market place. This is so because politic is seen as the allocation of resources, optimizing of social welfare and thus issues within the political process are governed with government finance, budget, types of taxes and the effects of those issues on political structure.
Is Political Science an Exact Science like Natural Science
Political science cannot be termed an exact science in the same sense like chemistry, physics or biology, because the unit of analysis involved in political science are human beings who are unpredictable and are not subject to be classified as an exact science.
Moreover, political scientist cannot attain the objectivity of the physical scientists, for they are dealing partially with themselves.
However, as far as political students observe and catalogue specific phenomena from which they subsequently endeavor to draw generalization, since they are empirical, they imitate the modes of exact sciences.
Political science like any other social science discipline has a scientific character because historical facts of the contemporary world are there to be observed, classified, connected and compared for the formulation of general principles.
Furthermore, political scientist utilizes certain techniques of the exact science such as statistics to fortify their conclusions.
Therefore, one must in any case exercise caution in expecting or demanding of political science the certitude typical of the natural science.