The scope of Political Science implies its area of study or subject matter. It is a very comprehensive and expanding social science. An attempt was made by the International Political Science
Association in Paris in 1948 to delineate its scope. It classified the same into four zones, namely, Political Theory, Political Institution, Political Dynamics and International Relations. We may attempt to describe its scope as follows.
1. Political Theory:
It deals with the definition and meaning of fundamental concepts of Political Science like state, government, law, liberty, equality, justice, sovereignty, separation of powers, methods of representation, forms of government, grounds of political obligation and various ideologies.
A clear understanding of these basic terms and concepts is essential for the study of Political Science. A student of Political Science must start his lessons with political theory.
2. Political Philosophy:
It is concerned with the theoretical and speculative consideration of the fundamental principles used by Political Science. Eminent political philosophers like Plato, Aristotle, Machiavelli, Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, Hegel, Mill, Marx, and Gandhi have expressed their views on nature, functions and ends of the state and government.
On the basis of their ideas, political theory defines political concepts. An important function of political philosophy has been to project values and ideals which political institutions strive hard to attain.
3. Political Institutions:
It is also concerned with the study of formal political institutions such as the state and the instrument through which it acts the government. Hence, the scope of Political Science extends to the study of the organisation and working of formal institutions like the legislature, the executive and the judiciary, and in these days, of the electorate and even the administration.
The study of constitutions and political institutions of various countries (comparative politics) enables the political scientists to evolve sound and workable principles for the conduct of government.
4. Political Dynamics:
The term refers to the forces and processes at work in government and politics. They influence and explain political action. They include the study of political parties, pressure groups, interest groups, lobbies, public opinion, propaganda and political semantics (meaning of words) which influence and manipulate political behaviour and attitudes of individuals and groups.
More recently, there has been a trend to extend the scope of Political Science into new areas of empirical investigation into political behaviour. Drawing upon the resources of other social sciences, Political Science has developed not only new techniques of analysis but new concepts like political culture, political socialisation and political communication to explain political phenomena.
5. Public Administration:
Public Administration is a major branch of Political Science and is emerging as an independent discipline in recent times. It deals with the organization, control and coordination of administrative machinery, personnel administration, financial administration, public relations, management, administrative law and adjudication etc. It also covers the study of local self-governing institutions like corporations, municipalities and Panchayati Raj institutions.
6. International Relations and International Law:
International Law is a body of general principles and specific rules which regulate the relationship among states and international institutions. The study of international relations is a growing area of Political Science.
It covers such important subjects as diplomacy, international politics, foreign policies and international organizations. In view of world peace, cooperation and even ‘world government,’ the need for strong international laws and sound international relations can hardly be exaggerated.
7. Relation between the State and the Individual:
The perennial and central problem, with which Political Science is concerned, is to establish proper relationship between the state and individuals. The state guarantees certain rights and freedoms to individuals and regulates their conduct and action through the legal system.
The proper adjustment between the authority and power of the state and liberty of the individuals is a knotty problem. Political Science deals with the proper sphere of state action, the limits of political control and the area of individual freedom.
Thus, the scope of Political Science has been expanding in recent times. The social life of man has a direct or indirect influence on his political life. Political Science enters any sphere of life which has political implications.
Modern Political Science in the era of post- behaviouralism deals with both empirical facts and value preferences. It is a combination of both science and philosophy. Hence it is a dynamic social science and its scope is ever expanding.