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Monday, April 4, 2011

Posted by Pankaj Bora at 10:18 PM

BEHAVIORAL AND POST BEHAVIORAL APPROACH TO POLITICAL SCIENCE

Meaning and definition of Behavioural Approach:

The behavioural approach to political science mainly emphasizes on scientific, objective and value free study of political phenomenon. This approach stresses upon the use of empirical as well as scientific methods of study political behavior. This approach shifts its emphasis from the study of the state and government to the day-today problems, activities and behaviour of individuals and groups. Behavioural approach has portraits individuals as center of attention and examines their behaviour, actions and tries to comprehend them through a scientific outlook. To Leslie Lipson, “The behavioural method records the details of what men do, seeking to explain why they do...” David Easton, one of the prominent scholars of this school said about it as, “the behavioural researcher wishes to look at the participants in the political system as individuals who have the emotions, prejudices and pre-dispositions of human beings as we know them in our daily lives.” Thus, behavioural approach studies the political behaviour of individuals through an empirical viewpoint. It studies the legislatures, voters, decision makers, policy makers etc. in a scientific way and by correlating their activities and practices, tries to conceptualize and give answer to political outcomes.

Characteristics of behaviouralism:

Behavioural approach is based on some fundamental assumptions. Scholars like David Easton, Kirkpatrick, Heinz Eulou etc have highlighted some basic characteristics of behaviouralism. David Easton has laid down eight basic characteristics. These are Regularities, Verification, Techniques, Quantification, Value free, Systematization, Pure Science and Integration. According to Eulan and Eldersveld, Study of Human political Behavior, Empirical Methods, Interdisciplinary Focus, Scientific Theory of Politics etc. are the main features of the approach. From these we can draw a few common features of Behavioral Approach. These are –importance of study political behavior, practice of theory and empirical research, use of scientific methods, importance on inter-disciplinary studies, application of new techniques and exercise of value neutral observation etc. In practice, behavioural approach studies political science through the perspective of defining individuals and group behaviours empirically by using scientific, value-neutral observations.

The behavioral approach brings to the fore, certain positive signs and makes the study of political science more authentic. By using scientific methods of study political phenomenon, exercise of value-neutrality in exploring human behaviour, the approach attempts to reach out a new height of analysis the political aspects of society theoretically. Despite having these advantages, behavioural approach to political science has been facing some criticisms on the following grounds.

Behavioural Approach advocates empirical study of individual behaviours. But all aspects of individual behaviour can’t be observed and stated through empirical generalizations. Thus, the approach loses the focal assumption, it has taken up. This approach is based on value-neutrality, is also not practical. Because, in political science, we study human-behaviour and it cannot be make a value-neutral discipline at any cost. Again critics pointed out that, in developing countries a value-free study of political science will not be fruitful due to overlapping in political structures, relations and activities. This approach gives more importance to individuals than institutions. But critics say that without looking at institutions we can’t draw proper conclusion...
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