What is Political Science?

An error occurred trying to load this video.

Try refreshing the page, or contact customer support.

Coming up next: Politics: Definition and Source of Governmental Conflict

You're on a roll. Keep up the good work!

Take Quiz Watch Next Lesson
Your next lesson will play in 10 seconds
  • 0:01 Political Science Defined
  • 0:44 Why It's Important
  • 2:42 Fields of Study
  • 4:55 Lesson Summary
Save Save Save

Want to watch this again later?

Log in or sign up to add this lesson to a Custom Course.

Log in or Sign up

Speed Speed

Recommended Lessons and Courses for You

Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Shawn Grimsley

Shawn has a masters of public administration, JD, and a BA in political science.

The great Greek philosopher Aristotle once called political science the master science. In this lesson, you'll learn what political science is, different subfields in the discipline, and why the study of political science is important.

Political Science Defined

Peter is a political scientist who works at one of several think tanks in Washington, D.C. A think tank is an organization that engages in research to solve particular problems, such as economic, political, technological, defense, and social problems. Peter's research focuses on the application of political science to solve pressing political and policy problems. According to the American Political Science Association, political science 'is the study of governments, public policies and political processes, systems, and political behavior.'

Why It's Important

As political scientist Harold Lasswell has explained, politics is the process of determining who gets what, when they get it, and how they get it. This is why Aristotle viewed political science as the master science - because politics affects pretty much every other human social endeavor.

Political science helps us understand politics. If you can understand something, you have a better chance of making it work in the manner you want. In other words, you have a better chance of helping to determine who gets what, when they get it, and how they get it. Let's look at an example.

Peter is studying the problem of healthcare in the United States. The United States pretty much spends more money per capita on healthcare than other countries but ranks well below many countries in healthcare outcomes. Adding to this problem is the public misconception that the United States healthcare system produces better results than systems in other countries that spend much less.

Peter's job as a researcher for his think tank is to examine the political problem of healthcare and come up with policy recommendations to solve the problem. This requires the study of political institutions, public policy, political behavior, and philosophical concepts, such as justice, equality, fairness, and liberty. He then needs to determine how these political factors relate and interact with a wide range of issues affecting the healthcare system, including economics, public and private finance, law, healthcare services, insurance, and ethics.

Fields of Study

Peter isn't the only political scientist working at the think tank. In fact, there are entire areas of political science that Peter doesn't study. This is because the study of modern political science has been divided into several subfields. Let's look at the major disciplines of political science.

To unlock this lesson you must be a Study.com Member.
Create your account

Register to view this lesson

Are you a student or a teacher?

Unlock Your Education

See for yourself why 30 million people use Study.com

Become a Study.com member and start learning now.
Become a Member  Back
What teachers are saying about Study.com
Try it risk-free for 30 days

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 200 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 1,500 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.

To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

Transferring credit to the school of your choice

Not sure what college you want to attend yet? Study.com has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.

Create an account to start this course today
Try it risk-free for 30 days!
Create an account