It also addresses the various reasons why, and ways in which, the British experience of behaviouralism is distinctive. The notion of post-behaviouralism, supposedly a new version emerging in response to potent criticisms of the approach, is considered. While the extent of change has been overstated, the post-behaviouralist critique highlights several criteria for evaluating the behaviouralist research. The article then imposes those criteria on to behaviouralism in Britain, and picks out some of its notable contributions to the understanding of British politics.
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Though it is not an easy task to define behaviouralism or political behaviour in a very precise way, attempts, during the last several decades, have been made to define it. In this definition there are two things which demand mention. It is a movement, and behaviouralism is based on the observable behaviour of individuals who are regarded as political actors.
Behaviouralism starts an in-depth analysis by scrutinising the political behaviour of individuals. There is another definition which is different from the standpoint of language but not conceptually.
Behaviouralism is a belief which insists that social theory can be and should be constructed only on the basis of observable behaviours because only such behaviour provides measurable or quantifiable data for research. The exponents of behaviouralism have built up a conviction that neglecting the behaviour of individuals—who are the real actors of social and political events— a plausible political social or political theory cannot be constructed.
Behaviouralism asserts that for an acceptable scientific theory of social science it is essential that the political behaviour of individuals is to be studied and not the units and organisations which deal with political questions and principles. It is because the political behaviour of actors constitutes the central aspects of politics. David Truman, in his famous essay published in , defined behaviouralism in the following words: Defined generally the term political behaviour comprehends those actions and interactions of men and groups which are involved in the process of governing.
In a more broader way the concept has been explained by David Truman another noted exponent of behaviouralism. He says that it is not a special field of social science; it is not even a field of political science. It denotes all the phenomena of government in terms of observed and observable behaviour of men.
Though it is generally held that behaviouralism or political behaviour or behaviouralism in politics is the product of Second World War turmoil, its true origin can be traced further back to the First World War. It has been asserted that after the First World War number of political scientists of the USA were inclined to analyse political behaviour empirically and for that purpose they adopted advanced scientific methods which ultimately led to a new concept called behaviouralism.
The first methodological approach received a better treatment in the hands of Frank Kent who was not a political scientist but a journalist. He arrived at the conclusion that the fabric of political concepts was built upon wrong notions.
A fruitful analysis of political science must take note of political behaviour demonstrated by citizens. After nine years, that is in , Herbert Tingsten wrote a book which was entitled Political Behaviour, Studies in Election Statistics. Tingsten wrote his book in the background of European elections but it had sufficient relevance to the political behaviour of American voters and some political scientists of America treated his book as the basis for the analysis of political behaviours.
Tingsten provided a great impetus for detailed and advanced analysis of behaviouralism in USA. The mental and psychological atmosphere was also quite favourable. Bernard Crick The American Science of Politics: Its Origin and Conditions says that due to the very nature of American people behaviouralism flourished in that country and the nature of Americans relates to their culture, fact-findingness, confidence in science and pragmatic nature.
Number of American political scientists devoted their energy and intellect to the cause of investigating the subject in a new light. The traditional way of analysing the subject earned its importance and they felt that it should be jettisoned.
New sophisticated methods were liberally used to study the subject. The main purpose was to update and upgrade the subject. Charles Merriam was another renowned exponent whose appearance considerably enriched the analysis of political science.
He predicted that in near future political science will receive better treatment. All this he said towards the mid-twenties of last century: During the thirties Charles Merriam provided a bold leadership for a comprehensive investigation of political science in the perspective of empirical analysis.
But Charles Merriam was not alone. Large number of scholars who established themselves as top political scientists were closely associated with the research of political science and some of them were Harold Lasswell, V. Key, and Gabriel Almond. They were under the direct influence of Charles Merriam.
We can therefore say that in the process of the growth of behaviouralism Merriam had a very important role to play. Behind the growth of behaviouralism in USA there lies remarkable contribution of a large number of European scholars. In the nineteen thirties many German political scientists and sociologists migrated to the USA due to the autocratic administration and inhuman torture of Hitler. The scholars carried with them the intellectual wealth and renewed their research in the liberal atmosphere of the American academic circles.
All of them emphisised the relevance of sociological, psychological, empirical and scientific methods for the study of political science. All of them strongly felt that only large scale application of empirical methods to the study of politics can make it worthy. The impact of S. This war had an unostentatious impact upon the analysis of political science. New approach was encouraged and the old tradition was thought to be irrelevant for new.
The old tradition was thought to be irrelevant for new and challenging situation. Researchers started to analyse the political bebaviour of individuals and in order to arrive at acceptable and plausible conclusions they applied new and mathematical techniques. After the S. The researchers admitted that there were defects and inconsistencies in the behaviour of voters but in spite of this their behaviour could provide important guidelines for the researchers.
In the field of the development of behaviouralism the contribution of certain financial institutions must be recognised because without financial assistance the research workers could not continue their work. In many European countries researchers show keen interest in behaviouralism but could not proceed satisfactorily due to the lack of funds. On the other hand, USA was far advanced.
This was due to the liberal contribution made by the philanthropic organisations and capitalists. In the fifties and sixties David Easton, Gabriel Almond, Harold Lasswell and many others devised new and improved schemes for the analysis of political science. These schemes were based on theoretical innovations and empiricism. All these radically transformed the very fabric of political theory in particular and political science in general. Their approach divided the subject into few sub-fields.
The general impact is that students of political science began to view it with a new outlook. The attention was diverted from the traditional approach such as to view politics in the light of institutions and organisations to in-depth analysis assisted by new methods.
As a result of the rapid growth of research and interest behaviouralism assumed new dimensions. Some people began to call themselves as theoretical behaviouralists and others preferred the term positive behaviouralists. In the nineteen seventies scholars of Europe took interests in the concept. They persuasively asserted that social science ought to be analysed in the light of what is, rather than what ought to be.
This approach was based on the data and facts derived from the field study. This tendency was prominent even in the sixties. But in the seventies scholars of Europe joined the army of behavioural researchers. Today behaviouralism is not only an important theoretical concept of political science; it constitutes a very important aspect.
It is a fact that in the seventies, it was faced with new challenges and situations which the researchers could not imagine. Today many serious scholars argue that the data and facts collected from the political behaviour of voters cannot be highly relied upon. There is validity in the argument no doubt but political science cannot be fruitfully analysed without facts and data. There may be imperfection or inconsistency in any data or facts, but such a lacuna can be found in any event or behaviour.
It is the duty of behaviouralists to select appropriate or relevant data and then start an analysis. The researchers were guided by an indomitable zeal to free political science from the bondage of traditional analysis. At present counter—arguments against behaviouralism are being advanced but no serious behaviouralist can contemplate rejecting the concept.
Added to it, David Easton himself has made bold attempt to add new arguments and revisions to the body of behaviouralism. We shall now turn to the analysis of the main features of behaviouralism.
Easton in his famous work A Framework for Political Analysis has said that the assumptions and objectives of behaviouralism lay the intellectual foundation- stones for political analysis. This claim is not without reason. Behaviouralism as a protest movement revolutionised the thought system of political science in the nineteen forties and fifties.
These intellectual foundation-stones are called credo. He has discussed this credo in his above-noted book in detail. The credo can also be described as assumptions of behaviouralism. It means that observable uniformities have been found in behaviour of individuals. Though individuals behave differently under different circumstances, uniformities can be discovered in their political behaviour. People uniformly react to circumstances. The consequence is certain general conclusions can be framed on the basis of uniform observable behaviour.
Second assumption or credo is that generalisations can be verified in reference to the behaviour. The behaviouralists collect and interpret data not in a haphazard way or indiscriminately but in a methodological and scientific way that is by adopting improved techniques borrowing from other sciences. In other words, the behaviouralists do not take any data or fact as granted.
They adopt cautious steps so that any mistake or misconceptions cannot crop up. Data and facts are processed in a scientific way. But in the entire process everything is measured and quantified. In analysing political behaviour and collecting data behaviouralists cautiously proceed. They observe that empirical judgment and value judgment are not mixed together. In earlier days, political behaviour was associated with normative judgment—that is, everything was judged in the perspective of values and norms.
But Easton observes that these two approaches are quite distinct and the distinction must be maintained. The researcher of political behaviour must proceed in his analysis quite systematically which means that the purpose of research is to arrive at truth or to build up general principles. All these will, in turn, supply materials for building up a structure of theory. If behaviouralists fail to act systematically they will not succeed. Of course, systematisation is not the sole property of behaviouralists, it is found in every science — physical or social.
Researchers must see that their work must be theory-oriented and theory-directed.
Though it is not an easy task to define behaviouralism or political behaviour in a very precise way, attempts, during the last several decades, have been made to define it. In this definition there are two things which demand mention. It is a movement, and behaviouralism is based on the observable behaviour of individuals who are regarded as political actors. Behaviouralism starts an in-depth analysis by scrutinising the political behaviour of individuals.
Behaviouralism in the analysis of politics and society
It assumes that political institutions largely reflect underlying social forces and that the study of politics should begin with society, culture , and public opinion. To this end, behavioralists utilize the methodology of the social sciences—primarily psychology—to establish statistical relationships between independent variables presumed causes and dependent variables presumed effects. For example, a behavioralist might use detailed election data to argue that voters in rural areas tend to vote for candidates who are more conservative , while voters in cities generally favour candidates who are more liberal. The prominence of behavioralists in the post-World War II period helped to lead political science in a much more scientific direction. For many behavioralists, only such quantified studies can be considered political science in the strict sense; they often contrasted their studies with those of the so-called traditionalists, who attempted to explain politics by using unquantified descriptions, anecdotes , historical analogies , ideologies , and philosophy. Like behaviourism in psychology , behavioralism in political science attempted to discard intuition , or at least to support it with empirical observation. A traditionalist, in contrast, might attempt to support intuition with reason alone.
Critique of Behavioralism in Political Science
I am writing neither to condemn behavioralism in political science, nor to praise or bury it. Advocates and practitioners of behavioralism are in the habit of blowing their own horn so loudly, that the addition of laudatory sounds from an outsider inclined to intone them would make for cacophony. In this sense of the word, many critiques of behavioralism in political science have been offered during the past. Most if not all express judgments about the righteousness of behavioral political studies.
Behaviouralism in Politics: Definition, Origin and Credo
Behavioralism is an approach in political science that became predominant in American social sciences from the s until well into the s. Behavioralism opened up the discipline to various theories and methods imported from the social and pure sciences. Behavioralists replaced political philosophy with the philosophy of science, thereby setting new standards for the formulation of concepts, hypotheses, theories, and protocols for empirical testing. Behavioralism thus represents a sharp break from the previous discipline. Recently, some scholars have called for a revival of behavioral international relations IR as a subfield concerned with the explanation of the behavior of leaders, rather than states —an approach that refocuses behavioralism on the individual as a unit of analysis and on the underlying processes that account for political judgment and decisions. Keywords: political science , Behavioral Revolution , political philosophy , philosophy of science , behavioralism , realism , idealism , international relations.