The Origin and Scope of Political Science: Tracing Its Evolution and Significance

The Origin and Scope of Political Science: Tracing Its Evolution and Significance


Political science, as a discipline, delves into the study of governance, political systems, and the behavior of individuals and groups within a political context. It aims to understand the distribution of power, decision-making processes, and the functioning of institutions that shape our societies. In this article, we will explore the origin and scope of political science, highlighting its historical development and the broad range of subjects it encompasses.

Origin and development of Political Science 

1. Ancient Origins: 

The roots of political science can be traced back to ancient civilizations, where thinkers and philosophers contemplated political organization and governance. In ancient Greece, notable philosophers like Plato and Aristotle explored topics such as justice, democracy, and the ideal form of government. Their seminal works, "The Republic" and "Politics," laid the foundation for political thought and continue to influence political science to this day. These writings emerged between the 4th and 3rd centuries BCE.

2. Rise of Modern Political Science: 

Political science as a distinct discipline began to take shape during the Enlightenment period in the 17th and 18th centuries. Thinkers like Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, and Jean-Jacques Rousseau examined the nature of the state, social contracts, and individual rights. Their ideas contributed to the development of political theories that sought to explain the relationship between the government and its citizens.

3. Institutionalization and Academic Discipline:

The 19th century witnessed the institutionalization of political science as an academic discipline. In 1880, Woodrow Wilson, who later became the 28th President of the United States, was one of the pioneers in establishing political science as a separate field of study at Princeton University. This marked the beginning of political science's inclusion in university curricula and the growth of academic departments dedicated to the subject.

 Scope of Political Science:

The scope of political science is vast and covers various subfields, including:

a) Political Theory: Examining concepts of power, authority, justice, and the philosophical underpinnings of political systems.

b) Comparative Politics: Analyzing and comparing different political systems, institutions, and processes across countries and regions.

c) International Relations: Investigating interactions between nation-states, international organizations, and global issues like diplomacy, conflict, and cooperation.

d) Public Administration: Focusing on the functioning of government institutions, policymaking, and public management.

e) Political Economy: Studying the relationship between politics and economics, including issues of resource allocation, wealth distribution, and the impact of policies on economic systems.

f) Political Behavior: Exploring the actions, attitudes, and preferences of individuals and groups within political contexts, including voting behavior and social movements.


Political science has evolved over centuries, drawing from ancient philosophical ideas and adapting to the changing dynamics of governance and society. Its scope encompasses a wide range of subjects, allowing scholars to analyze political phenomena at various levels, from local to global. Understanding political science enables us to grasp the complexities of the political world and contribute to the development of better policies and governance practices. As we continue to navigate the challenges of the modern era, political science remains a vital field of study, shedding light on the mechanisms that shape our societies and informing the decisions that shape our collective future.

Athar Maqsood

Woking as an Author and Writer since 2020.
Education :
Bachelor in Political Science and Economics. Diploma in Computer Science, Tally, and Typing.

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