Overview

"Political Science is the study of nothing in particular"

Professor L. Puller (2002)

Political scientists study the allocation and transfer of power in decision-making, the roles and systems of governance including governments and international organizations, political behavior and public policies. They measure the success of governance and specific policies by examining many factors, including stability, justice, material wealth, and peace. Some political scientists seek to advance positive theses by analyzing politics. Others advance normative theses, by making specific policy recommendations.

The study of politics is complicated by the occasional involvement of political scientists in the political process, since their teachings occasionally provide the frameworks within which other commentators, such as journalists, special interest groups, politicians, and the electorate analyze issues and select options. Political scientists may serve as advisers to specific politicians, or even run for office as politicians themselves. Political scientists can be found working in governments, in political parties or as civil servants. They may be involved with non-governmental organizations (NGOs) or political movements. In a variety of capacities, people educated and trained in political science can add value and expertise to corporations. Private enterprises such as think tanks, research institutes, polling and public relations firms often employ political scientists. In the United States, political scientists known as "Americanists" look at a variety of data including elections, public opinion and public policy such as Social Security reform, foreign policy, U.S. congressional power, and the U.S. Supreme Court—to name only a few issues.

Most American colleges and universities offer B.A. programs in political science. M.A. and Ph.D programs are common at larger universities. Some universities offer B.S or M.S. degrees. The term political science has an American flavor; other institutions, especially those outside the United States, see political science as part of a broader discipline of political studies, politics, or government. While political science implies use of the scientific method, political studies implies a broader approach, although the naming of degree courses does not necessarily reflect their content.

Studies

The advent of political science as a university discipline is evidenced by the naming of university departments and chairs with the title of political science arising in the 1860s. In fact, the designation "political scientist" is typically reserved for those with a doctorate in the field. Integrating political studies of the past into a unified discipline is ongoing, and the history of political science has provided a rich field for the growth of both normative and positive political science, with each part of the discipline sharing some historical predecessors. The American Political Science Association was founded in 1903 and the American Political Science Review was founded in 1906 in an effort to distinguish the study of politics from economics and other social phenomena.[Learn more]

Politician

A politician is an individual who is involved in influencing public decisionmaking through the influence of politics or a person who influences the way a society is governed through an understanding of political power and group dynamics. This includes people who hold decision-making positions in government, and people who seek those positions, whether by means of election, coup d'etat, appointment, electoral fraud, conquest, right of inheritance (see also: divine right) or other means. Politics are not limited to governance through public office. Political offices may also be held in corporations, and other entities that are governed by self-defined political processes.

 

Considered a politician

A person who is active in party politics. In a state, a member of the executive branch of government, or the office of Head of State, as well as the legislative branch, and regional and local levels of government.
Any person influencing group opinions in his or her favor can be termed a politician. For example, a worker participating in office politics is a politician, but only so far as the operations of his or her workplace are concerned. Some law enforcement officers, such as sheriffs, and many judges who are elected or appointed because of their political views or popularity.[Learn more]