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Nature and Scope of Comparative Politics Book PDF Free Download
Nature and Scope of Comparative Politics PDF
The subject of comparative politics virtually constitutes a study in the direction of the ‘expanding horizon of political science’ wherein we seem to have emerged from the ‘plains of doubts and darkness’ to a ‘higher plateau’ to see what our passionate endeavors, particularly of the skeptical decade of the 1950s and the ‘determined decade’ of the 1960s, “have produced, in which the earlier high points of the discipline have lost some of their erstwhile importance or at least are now seen in a new light, and those whose significance suffered by neglect, have emerged in our perspective and awareness in the vale of political knowledge, which contains both rushing torrents (i.e., political process as a whole) as well as limped pools (i.e., speculative political thought)”.
What has played the role of a motivating force in this important direction is the quest to study ‘political reality’ by means of new techniques and approaches in a way so that the entire area of ‘politics’ may be covered.
As a result, not a study of the ‘government’ but of the ‘governments’ has become the central concern that implies the taking of ‘decision’ whether “in the United Nations, or in a parish council, in a trade union or in a papal conclave, in a board room or in a tribe.
” Comparative politics has appeared as a subject of momentous significance on account of this vital reason that a great deal of experimentation “is now going on with new approaches, new definitions, new research tools. Perhaps the main reason for the present intellectual ferment is a widespread feeling of disappointment and dissatisfaction with the traditional descriptive approach to the subject.”
Definition, Meaning, Nature, and Scope of Comparative Politics
The term ’comparative politics’ is of recent origin and came into vogue in the fifties of the present century and is indicative of the expanding horizon of political science. Political scientists made a bid to study political reality through new techniques and approaches.
The old concepts were also seen in a new light. One of the main reasons which encouraged the development of a new approach to the study of politics was dissatisfaction with the traditional descriptive approach to the subject.
The scholars laid greater emphasis on the informal political process rather than political institutions and the state. They borrowed a number of ideas and concepts from other social sciences and provided political studies a new empirical orientation.
Before we proceed further to draw a distinction between comparative government and comparative politics, it shall be desirable to define comparative politics.
According to Freeman “Comparative politics is a comparative analysis of the various forms of government and diverse political institutions.” Brabant says comparative politics is the “identification and interpretation of factors in the whole social order which appears to affect whatever political functions and their institutions which have been identified and listed for comparison.
”Distinction between Comparative Government and Comparative Politics: Scholars have tended to use the terms ‘comparative government’ and ‘comparative politics’ for each other without realizing the difference between the two.
For example, Prof. S. E. Finer does not consider the two as different when he argues that “politics is neither the same thing as a government nor is it necessarily connected only with those great territorial associations which have a government and which are known as ‘State’.
For if we use government in the sense of ‘governance’ or the ‘activity of governing’ we shall find that government exists at three levels (1) for the vastest area of human conduct and activity in society proceeds quite unregulated by the public authorities.
It forms a coherent set of patterns and regulates itself. (2) The second chief mode by which society forms its own patterns and regulates itself is the process of so-called ‘socialization’ of the individual, with which is associated the concept of ‘social control’. Most societies in the modern world, however, are equipped with governments.
However, Edward Freeman is conscious of the fact that these two terms are not identical and tries to draw a distinction between them The main differences between ‘comparative politics’ and ‘comparative government’ are as follows:
1. Firstly, while the comparative government is concerned with the study of formal political institutions like the legislature, executive, judiciary, and bureaucracy alone in comparative politics the other factors which influence the working of the political institutions are taken into account. In other words ‘comparative politics’ makes a study of the formal as well as informal political institutions.
This point has been summed up by a scholar thus: “The scope of comparative politics is wider than that of comparative government despite a search for making comparisons which is central to the study of both.
The concern of a student of comparative politics does not end with the study of rulemaking, rule implementation, and rule adjudicating organs of various political systems or even with the study of some extra-constitutional agencies (like political and pressure groups) having their immediate connection, visible or invisible with the departments of state activity. In addition to all this, he goes ahead to deal with…even those subjects hitherto considered as falling within the range of Economics, Sociology, and Anthropology.”
2. Secondly, the comparative government was chiefly confined to the study of the political institutions of Western democratic countries. On the other hand, comparative politics concentrates on the study of the political institutions of all the countries of the world. It has laid special emphasis on the study of political institutions of the states which have emerged in the twentieth century.
3. Thirdly, comparative government involves only a descriptive study of the political institutions and makes only a formal study of the political institutions provided by the constitution. On the other hand, comparative politics concentrates on the analytical study of the various political institutions. Investigation and experimentation constitute prominent features of comparative politics.
4. Finally, comparative government concerns itself only with the political activities of the political institutions, while comparative politics also takes into account the economic, cultural, and social factors. In other words, it tries to examine political institutions through an interdisciplinary approach. Politics is a continuous, timeless, ever-changing, and universal activity having its key manifestation in the making of a decision to face and solve a ‘predicament’.
It “flows from a special kind of activity, a form of human behavior.” It refers to the making or taking of a decision in which some political action is involved. It is a different thing that political scientists define and interpret the term ‘political action’ in their own ways that ascribes to them the title of being a conservative, a traditionalist, or a modernist.
It is for this reason that Oakeshott defines political activity as “an activity in which human beings, related to one another as members of a civil association, think and speak about the arrangements and the conditions of their association from the point of view of their desirability, make proposals about changes in these arrangements and conditions, try to persuade others of the desirability of the proposed changes and act in such a manner as to promote the changes”; David Easton treats it as an action for the ‘authoritative allocation of values’; Harold Lasswell and Robert Dahl describe it as a special case in the exercise of power’; and Jean Blondel lays emphasis on the point of ‘decision taking’.
However, a fine interpretation of the term ‘political activity’ is thus given by Oakeshott who says: “In political activity, then, men sail a boundless and bottomless sea; there is neither harbor for shelter nor floor for anchorage; neither starting-place nor appointed destination.
The enterprise is to keep afloat on an even keel; the sea is both friend and enemy.” In the field of comparative politics, the term ‘politics’ has three connotations—political activity, political process, and political power.
As already pointed out, the political activity consists of the efforts by which conditions of conflicts are created and resolved in a way pertaining to the interests of the people, as far as possible, who play their part in the ‘struggle for power’.
The reduction of tensions or the resolution of conflicts naturally takes place through the operation of permanent mechanisms of tension reduction as well as, from time to time, by the introduction of further ‘reserve’ mechanisms designed to reduce the number of tensions and conflicts in emergencies.
If politics means the authoritative allocation of ‘values’, some measure of conflict is bound to arise between ‘values’ as desired by the people and ‘values’ as held by the men in power.
Thus arise conflicts that demand their solution and what leads to efforts in this regard constitutes political activity. It is the government that “has to solve these conflicts by whatever means are at its disposal, the only limitation being that in so doing it must prevent the break-up of the polity.
Politics ceases where secession, and indeed civil war begins, as, at that point, there is no longer an authoritative allocation of values, but two sides allocating their values differently”.
It should, however, not be inferred from this statement that there is nothing like political activity during the days of civil war or some revolutionary upheaval, it simply means that such an eventuality “constitutes a high point of tension in the life of a community, the role of political action must consist of preventing the community from reaching such a point.
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Nature and Scope of Comparative Politics Book PDF Free Download