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Cover Politics

1. Introduction: The Nature of Politics and Political Analysis  

This chapter discusses the nature of politics and political analysis. It first defines the nature of politics and explains what constitutes ‘the political’ before asking whether politics is an inevitable feature of all human societies. It then considers the boundary problems inherent in analysing the political and whether politics should be defined in narrow terms, in the context of the state, or whether it is better defined more broadly by encompassing other social institutions. It also addresses the question of whether politics involves consensus among communities, rather than violent conflict and war. The chapter goes on to describe empirical, normative, and semantic forms of political analysis as well as the deductive and inductive methods of the study of politics. Finally, it examines whether politics can be a science.

Chapter

Cover Introduction to Politics

1. Introduction: The Nature of Politics and Political Analysis  

Robert Garner

This introductory chapter examines the nature of politics and the political, and more specifically whether politics is an inevitable feature of all human societies. It begins by addressing questions useful when asking about who gets what, when, how?; for example, why those taking decisions are able to enforce them. The discussion proceeds by focusing on the boundary problems inherent in an analysis of the nature of the political. One such problem is whether politics is equivalent to consensus and cooperation, so that it does not exist in the event of conflict and war. The chapter then explores different forms of political analysis—the empirical, the normative, and the semantic—as well as deductive and inductive methods of studying politics. Finally, it asks whether politics can ever be a science to rival subjects in the natural sciences.

Chapter

Cover Introduction to Politics

1. Introduction: The Nature of Politics and Political Analysis  

Robert Garner

This introductory chapter examines the nature of politics and the political, and more specifically whether politics is an inevitable feature of all human societies. It begins by addressing questions useful when asking about ‘who gets what, when, how?’; for example, why those taking decisions are able to enforce them. The discussion proceeds by focusing on the boundary problems inherent in an analysis of the nature of the political. One such problem is whether politics is equivalent to consensus and cooperation, so that it does not exist in the event of conflict and war. The chapter then explores different forms of political analysis — the empirical, the normative, and the semantic—as well as deductive and inductive methods of studying politics. Finally, it asks whether politics can ever be a science to rival subjects in the natural sciences.

Chapter

Cover Political Research

1. Political Research  

This text provides readers with the analytic skills and resources they need to evaluate research findings in political research, as well as the practical skills for conducting their own independent inquiry. It shows that empirical research and normative research are not independent of each other and explains the distinction between positivism and interpretivism, and between quantitative and qualitative research. Part 1 of this edition discusses key issues in the philosophy of social science, while Part 2 presents a ‘nuts and bolts’ or ‘how to’ guide to research design, such as how to find and formulate a research question. Part 3 evaluates different methods of data collection and analysis that can be used to answer research questions, along with the variety of considerations and decisions that researchers must confront when using different methods.

Chapter

Cover Political Research

3. Objectivity and Values  

This chapter focuses on a key debate in the philosophy of social science: whether it is possible to separate facts and values in social science research. It first considers normative and empirical theory in political research before discussing the ways in which the values of the researcher influence the research process. It then examines Thomas Kuhn’s arguments concerning paradigms and how they change through scientific ‘revolutions’, along with their implications for the possibility of value-free social inquiry. It looks at an example of how the notion of ‘paradigm’ has been applied to a specific area of inquiry within politics: the study of development. It also compares Kuhn’s paradigms with Imre Lakatos’ concept of ‘scientific research programmes’.