Essay on Traditional Approaches to the Study of Politics

There are four methods in the Traditional Approaches to Study Politics e.g. 1. Philosophical, 2. Historical, 3. Legal, 4. Institutional.

1. Philosophical:

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i. Oldest approach


ii. Identified with names and preferences

iii. Contemporary exponent is Leo Strauss, Lindsay

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2. Historical:

i. used in two senses

1. Arriving at laws through analysis of events of past as found in writings of Hegel, Marx.


2. Attempts at understanding politics through historical account of political thought of the past—Sabine.

a. Popular in last quarter of 19th century.

b. Seeks to understand state and institution in process of change.

c. Exponent is Sabine, Dunning, McIIwain, Burgess, K. Sceley, Carlyle, Carlin, Aristotle and Machiavelli


d. Criticized by behaviouralist like Easton.

3. Legal:

a. Focuses on legal and const, framework in which different organs of Government have to function and inquires into their legal position, power and procedure which makes their action legally valid.

b. Proponents of this approach are Bodin, Hobbes, Bentham, Austin and A.V. Dicey.

4. Institutional:

a. Popular in first quarter of 20th century.

b. Closely related to legal approach, yet different

c. Exponents-Bagehot, James Bryce, Giovani Sartori

d. Amongst traditional approaches it alone gives an independent identity to the systematic study of politics

e. Emphasis of facts so exemplifies a shift from normative to empirical approach. However relies heavily on description rather than explanation.

f. It is assimilated into the behavioural approach and is still important. For it draws attention to the role of formal rules and institutions.


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