History of Political Science

Among the variety of social studies, political science is the most affluent one. It studies political institutions and their role in the government. Today we also study the impact of societal, cultural, and psychological factors on the government. Political science is rather a systematically organized knowledge than a research paradigm able to produce a precise measurement. Nevertheless, we shall not underestimate this knowledge as it empowers people to be better political leaders.

Political matters have been analyzed yet by the ancient scholars in China, India, and North Africa. In Greece, Plato introduced some ideas about the Republican governance, and Aristotle became the founder of the political science. He derived empirical observations of the politics and created the typology of political systems. The Aristotle’s classification is still helpful in understanding political organization.

Niccolo Machiavelli, the Italian writer, became the first modern political scientist. In the 16th century, he introduced the idea of power as we know it. Machiavellian ideas are popular among the present-day political theorists. Europe was remarkable with its political philosophers, among them Thomas Hobbes (England), Jean-Jacques Rousseau (France), Adam Smith (Scotland). In the US, Thomas Jefferson constituted the American Declaration of Independence based on the ideas of John Locke, the English political philosopher.

In the 19th century, political science was divided into two parts by the opposite views of historians. Alexis de Tocqueville (France) successfully analyzed the American democracy from the point of cultural values. On the other hand, German theorists Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels viewed the capitalist economy as the instrument of domination over the social classes. In the early 20th century, totalitarian regimes that emerged all over Europe and Asia pulled the political science away from its laws and procedures. Studies of this period focused on the role of political elite, bureaucratic processes, and choices of voters in democratic entities.