Distinction between Political Science and Politics
The terms ‘Political Science’ and ‘Politics’ are often used interchangeably. However, the
distinction between the two needs to be understood. Some scholars define Politics to be
“the science and art of government.” But this is only a part of the total explanation of the
subject of Political Science. Now-a-days the term Politics is used to mean the problems
of the citizens interacting with the instrument of political power in one form or the other.
Sometimes, Politics was and still is used as the technique of compromise or the method to
capture power and retain it.
According to many political scientists, the study of Political Science comprises theory of
the state, concept of sovereign power, forms and functions of government, making and
execution of laws, elections, political parities, rights and duties of citizens, policy functions
and study of welfare activities of the State and government.
There is another aspect of Politics that needs to be emphasised. Politics, many a time,
implies practical politics. Practising politics is different from studying it. Practical politics
includes actual formation of government, the working of government, administration, laws
and legislation. It also includes international politics including matters such as peace and
war, international trade and economic order, protection of rights, etc. All these also comprise
the subject matter of the study of Politics.
While the knowledge of Political Science as a discipline is acquired through study, the skill
of practical politics is acquired through politicking or manipulations and craftiness or by
exploiting caste and regional loyalties and religious sentiments. Practical politics is often
described as the ‘dirty game’ and a ‘corrupting’ process in the common people’s mind.
But we find that there are hardly any human groupings or societies, which are free from
‘politics’ and hardly any individual who does not know the implications of the “game of
Practical Politics also has many positive aspects. In this era of welfare state many positive
programmes such as removal of untouchability, land reforms, release of bonded labourers,
prohibition of trafficking in human beings and begar (forced labour), introduction of
minimum wages, employment generation programmes, empowerment of the other backward
classes are all examples of positive aspects of practical politics.
‘Politics’ refers to the process of actual happenings in society and in institutions, which
Political Science refers to its understand in a systematic manner.
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