The discussion of political science
remains incomplete unless the political
theory is properly discussed. In the
discussion of political theory, there are
many questions that arise in your mind.
Every time you start to study political
science, the first thing you need to know
about and understand is political theory.
And in order to understand the political
theory, you have to face many problems.
Political Theory theory shape our thought
process towards society from where we
belong to. That is why as a student of
political science we should study
political theory. because it helps-
• To explain what is going on around us.
• To understand our rights and duties.
• To decide what should be or not should
• To solve ethical problems.
• To understand political development
and political crisis in the world.
So it became necessary to clearly
understand the concept of political theory.
Once we understand the meaning of
political theory and what its functions are,
then it will be easy for us to figure
out why should we study political
theory in detail.
What is Theory?
The first term is a theory that you need to know;
otherwise you will not understand anything of political
The English word ‘Theory’ comes from the Greek word
‘Theoria’ which means “a looking at, viewing,
beholding”. In a sense of ancient Greek the theory is to
gain knowledge of a particular phenomenon through
thoughtfulness and intellectual insight. In general, the
theory implies an analytical framework.
But proponents of empiricism think that knowledge,
which is based on some predetermined self-reflection
and make a conclusion based on that, cannot be called
According to them theory refers to Determines the inter-
relationship between the various information obtained
from the experience and presents it in a coherent and
meaningful way. But the problem is that if the theory is
based on only information by experiences then how we
define the concept of Freedom, Equality, and Justice,
and so on.
So in general you can say that theory is a
systematic study for systematic
knowledge about a particular
phenomenon based on abstract ideas,
rational character, generality, and non-
speculation in nature. The prime goal of
the theory is to find out the human
What is Political?
Now you have to understand what politics is. Political
mainly refers to power or authority. It also refers to
influence, control, and use of physical force or threat.
In Newspaper, we see a variety of issues related to the
rape, racism, gender equality, political party, March
against the government. Now the question is, are these
Yes these issues are political because of all these
issues related to power. And all these are linked to the
So it can be said that political refers to the power to take
decisions by the government institutions about common
life or society. Here political refers to power with (a
government institution) and power to (common people
But is it not 100 percent true. Rajeev Bhargava in his
book (Political Theory: An Introduction) explain political
very accurately. He has used an example of women’s
organization protesting against the exclusion or unequal
treatment of women.
So far as political has meant that the Woman
Organization has never belonged to the political.
Because the Woman Organization is not part of the
But protest by women’s group is political. Their act is
political. Women have long struggled against some
social practice. Unequal treatment over them means the
use of power over them by men or any social practices.
Exercise of power in any type linked to the political and
it refers to power over also.
The main point of this article is political theory.
You have already got the meaning of Theory
and Political and now you will learn what it
means when these two words sit together.
If theory refers to the systematic study for
systematic knowledge about a particular
phenomenon or issues then, political theory is
the systematic study for systematic knowledge
about political phenomena or issues.
Again, it can be said that political theory is a theory that
deals with political matters. Political theory is related to
the science and philosophy of political affairs.
A British political scientist David Held nicely defines
political theory as “a network of concept and
generalizations about political life involving ideas,
assumptions and statements about the nature, purpose
and key features of government, state and society and
about the political capabilities of human beings”.
Definition of Political Theory
POLITICAL THEORY is the study of
politics, concepts, and the historical
record of political thought.
Objective in the Study of Political Theory
Political Theory helps us better understand
the concepts that have shaped our politics,
including freedom, equality, individuality,
democracy and justice. Importantly, Political
Theory is the part of Political Science that
explores what a better political world would look
like and how we can create it.
According to David Held, political theory is
a 'network of concepts and generalizations
about political life involving ideas,
assumptions and statements about the
nature, purpose and key features of
government, state and society, and about
the political capabilities of human beings'
political theory is 'a series of concepts
and concepts all about political life
that incorporate ideas, assumptions
and statements about the state,
purpose and essential aspects of
government, state and society, and
human political power.
Political theory is the study of how we
ought to organize the forces that
shape our lives. ... This course will
therefore consider the whats, whys, and
hows of the economy, culture, ecology,
race, gender, spirituality, education, and
most everything else that forms our social
and political experience.
Political theory is the study of political
ideas and values like justice, power
and democracy that we use to describe,
understand and assess political practices
Father of Political Theory
Some have identified Plato (428/427–
348/347 bce), whose ideal of a stable
republic still yields insights and
metaphors, as the first political scientist,
though most consider Aristotle (384–322
bce), who introduced empirical
observation into the study of politics, to be
the discipline's true founder.
Plato believes that conflicting interests
of different parts of society can be
harmonized. ... The best, rational and
righteous, political order, which he
proposes, leads to a harmonious unity of
society and allows each of its parts to
flourish, but not at the expense of others.
Political Theory - a theory having to do
with the political relationships among
men specifically : one concerned with
the organization and basis of government
political theories are generated by social
frictions — A. S. Kaufman.
Political theory reflects upon political
phenomenon, processes and
institutions and on actual political
behaviour by subjecting it to
philosophical or ethical criterion. ...
The theories are the results of thoughts
and research of many scholars and
exponents of political science.
Political Theory According to Aristotle
The aim of the Politics, Aristotle says, is to
investigate, on the basis of the constitutions
collected, what makes for good government
and what makes for bad government and to
identify the factors favourable or
unfavourable to the preservation of a
Traditional vs. Modern
The traditional approaches are mostly
legal, institutional, historical, descriptive in
nature, while the modern approach
is scientific, rational and analytical. ...
They compare the functions performed by
Modern Political Theory
critically examines the contemporary
state of political theory, making an
assessment of the achievement and
limitations of the 'Behavioural Revolution'
in its totality, and reviews objectively the
major paradigms and conceptual
frameworks adopted by the discipline.
Theory vs. Ideology
In simple terms, ideology can be identified
as a way of thinking or a set of ideas
that people uphold in a society.
Theories, on the other hand, are a
generalized thinking or a conclusion of
something that is a result of an analysis.
Functions of Political
Political theory helps to understand what is actually
happening surrounding us and throughout the world as
well. Political theory tells you how you do collect data
from those political events and how to study it
When women organizations protest against the
government, there are definitely some reasons behind
those protests. Political theory gives us
theoretical/conceptual frameworks to explain the
reasons for those protests. When we study women
protest, the maximum time we use the conceptual
frameworks like equality, empowerment, rights, justice,
and so on.
Political theory always tells us that the
political events surrounding us are good
or bad, right or wrong for all of us. The
prime goal of political theory is to find out
the truth from our society. The political
theory also gives the criterion of how
good and how bad that truth is.
It helps us to understand about good
order society and what makes society
perfect. If anything wrong is happening
related to politics then what will is the best
solution also given by political theory.
Philosophy, Social Science and Political Theory
1 The current state of political theory
4 The decline of Marxism and the rise of communitarianism
Law and Social Control
1 Law and social philosophy
2 Natural law
3 Law as command
4 Legal realism
5 Legal systems as systems of rules
6 Principles, rules and the law
7 Law and society
8 The rule of law
1 The state in political philosophy
2 Analysis of the state
3 The economic theory of the state
4 The organic theory of the state
Authority and Power
1 Authority, power and coercion
2 The nature of authority
3 Some problems with power
4 Social theories of power
1 Political principles and political philosophy
2 Logical positivism and emotivism
3 Universalisability and ethical pluralism
7 Marxism and collectivism
1 The problem of justice
2 The meaning of justice
3 Procedural justice
4 Social justice
5 Rawls's theory of justice
1 The equality principle
2 Human nature and equality
3 Equality of opportunity
4 Equality, markets and resources
5 Equality, the family and feminism
1 Liberty in political philosophy
2 The meaning of liberty
3 Negative and positive liberty
4 Liberty as autonomy
5 John Stuart Mill and the value of liberty
6 Law, morality and paternalism
1 Rights in political theory
2 Analysis of rights
3 Critics of rights
4 Human rights, economic and social rights and welfare
The Public Interest and Democracy
1 The public interest
3 Procedural democracy and the public interest
4 The radical critique of liberal democracy