Systems Approach To The Study Of Politics

Politics can be approached as a system, that is, as a political system. It is an analogical approach which means that political systems are like those found in biology, physics, astronomy, as for example like the nervous system in human body or like the solar system in die universe around us. By a system we mean a grouping of separate but interdependent parts which form a working whole to achieve some objective.


Every system is a part of a larger system, while it has also sub-systems within it The larger system is the environment of a system, from which it receives some things, called inputs, and also gives out some other things, called outputs. Some of the outputs are again recycled into the system, called feedback.

Thus every system has equilibrium i.e., a stable system of inputs and outputs. If its outputs are greater than its inputs, the system becomes unstable unless a system is “closed”, i.e., totally self-contained, it depends on links with the external environment on which it depends for its survival. Hence it should adapt itself to its environment, which means to the larger system of which it is a sub-system.

As we said above, the systems theory is an analogy, which political scientists, like David Easton, or Almond, applied to the study of politics. According to them, the whole human society is a social system, of which government is a political subsystem. But the government, as a political system, consists of several sub-systems, such as legislature, executive departments, judicial system, etc.

Every system is a system of roles which are supported by norms and values of appropriate behaviour and relationships, and Of shared values, symbols and beliefs, which provide the basis for the people to act together to achieve some objectives or goals. We shall say more about the political system and its input-output mechanisms in the next chapter.

The advantage of the systems approach is the heuristic help it provides to the political scientist. It also enables them to study where a political system is under strain, that is, where the inputs are not sufficient to balance the outputs. For example, a government may not receive enough taxes to meet its expenditure.

Thus a student of a political system can foretell or predict where or at what point or points it is under strain or stress and what remedies can be adopted to restore its balance or equilibrium. It is, therefore, claimed that the systems approach makes Political Science a scientific study, in which prediction is accurately possible. In view of this claim, we shall discuss, in a later chapter, whether Political Science is really a science or not?



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