Political Science

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What is the nature and scope of political science?

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Political science, by nature, is a social science that deals with humans and their interactions. As a branch of sociology, it essentially deals with the large-scale actions of humans, and group mentality. It is a soft science, in contrast with things like chemistry and biology, meaning that it studies tendencies and actions in people—which cannot be easily quantified or examined. Political science, however, is more focused than most social sciences.

In its scope, political science sticks to the political arena. While social sciences tend to study how humans act and react on a group scale in any number of situations, political science tends to stick to the realm of politics, either dealing with situations with two competing sides or the lateral decisions that affect the group as a whole. It is related to game theory in that it involves probability, competition, and wins and losses (particularly in relation to elections and the like).

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The nature of political science is that it is a social science.  This means that it is concerned with the relationships between human beings and between human beings and their societies.  As a social science, political science is not a “hard science.”  What this means is that political science is not a science in which researchers can conduct experiments to find answers that are true beyond a doubt.  Instead, political scientists have to do the best they can to try to find answers about human society by observing human beings and their societies.

The scope of political science is very broad.  Political science covers a variety of topics.  The basic area that political science studies is government.  However, political scientists can study a variety of subjects that are tangentially related to government.  For example, they can study political philosophy, looking at the philosophical origins of things like liberalism.  They can study the relationship between the media and government.  They can study the ways in which people come to form their political opinions and values.

Political science can also study a variety of aspects of government.  Political science studies urban politics, looking at governments within individual cities.  It can study the workings of a given legislative body such as the US Congress or the Parliament of the UK.  It can study the relationships between different branches of government.  It can also study the relationships between various governments or between governments and bodies like the United Nations.

In short, political science is a social science that can study any aspect of government, the relations between people and their governments, and the relations between different governments.

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