Monday, April 4, 2011


Meaning and definition of Behavioural Approach:

The behavioural approach to political science mainly emphasizes on scientific, objective and value free study of political phenomenon. This approach stresses upon the use of empirical as well as scientific methods of study political behavior. This approach shifts its emphasis from the study of the state and government to the day-today problems, activities and behaviour of individuals and groups. Behavioural approach has portraits individuals as center of attention and examines their behaviour, actions and tries to comprehend them through a scientific outlook. To Leslie Lipson, “The behavioural method records the details of what men do, seeking to explain why they do...” David Easton, one of the prominent scholars of this school said about it as, “the behavioural researcher wishes to look at the participants in the political system as individuals who have the emotions, prejudices and pre-dispositions of human beings as we know them in our daily lives.” Thus, behavioural approach studies the political behaviour of individuals through an empirical viewpoint. It studies the legislatures, voters, decision makers, policy makers etc. in a scientific way and by correlating their activities and practices, tries to conceptualize and give answer to political outcomes.

Characteristics of behaviouralism:

Behavioural approach is based on some fundamental assumptions. Scholars like David Easton, Kirkpatrick, Heinz Eulou etc have highlighted some basic characteristics of behaviouralism. David Easton has laid down eight basic characteristics. These are Regularities, Verification, Techniques, Quantification, Value free, Systematization, Pure Science and Integration. According to Eulan and Eldersveld, Study of Human political Behavior, Empirical Methods, Interdisciplinary Focus, Scientific Theory of Politics etc. are the main features of the approach. From these we can draw a few common features of Behavioral Approach. These are –importance of study political behavior, practice of theory and empirical research, use of scientific methods, importance on inter-disciplinary studies, application of new techniques and exercise of value neutral observation etc. In practice, behavioural approach studies political science through the perspective of defining individuals and group behaviours empirically by using scientific, value-neutral observations.

The behavioral approach brings to the fore, certain positive signs and makes the study of political science more authentic. By using scientific methods of study political phenomenon, exercise of value-neutrality in exploring human behaviour, the approach attempts to reach out a new height of analysis the political aspects of society theoretically. Despite having these advantages, behavioural approach to political science has been facing some criticisms on the following grounds.

Behavioural Approach advocates empirical study of individual behaviours. But all aspects of individual behaviour can’t be observed and stated through empirical generalizations. Thus, the approach loses the focal assumption, it has taken up.
This approach is based on value-neutrality, is also not practical. Because, in political science, we study human-behaviour and it cannot be make a value-neutral discipline at any cost. Again critics pointed out that, in developing countries a value-free study of political science will not be fruitful due to overlapping in political structures, relations and activities.
This approach gives more importance to individuals than institutions. But critics say that without looking at institutions we can’t draw proper conclusion as institutions hold prime importance in the subject matter of political science.
Again one can criticize the approach due to the large diversity and differences among the political scientist of behavioural school itself. Here, we can derive the answer that though theoretically behavioralism is a much applicable approach but that lakes fruitful application in practice.
Post-Behavioural Approach
After discussing the Behavioural Approach, we put light on the Post- Behavioural Approach to develop a greater understanding of the prospects of Political Science. The Post-Behaviouural Approach is such an approach which developed after witnessing the loopholes of Behavioral Approach. Considering the popularity in 1940’s, Behavioural Approach has been one of the most important approaches to Political Science. But in 1970’s, there was general dissatisfaction with the achievements of behaviouralist as it failed to solve practical problems of the society and it led to the emergence of the post-Behavioural Approach. The failure of the Behavioural Approach to make any real progress towards the objective of building a scientific political theory compelled the behaviouralists to admit reforms in Behavioural Approach and that result in Post- Behavioural Approach. David Easton, who at one time was a Behaviouralist, criticized it for its limitations in later course. Thus, the Post- Behavioural Approach complains that the Behavioural Approach had not taken into account serious social matters.

Post- Behavioural Approach is both a movement and academic tendency. It opposed the efforts of the Behavioural Approach to make Political science a value free science. The Post- Behavioural Approach is a future oriented approach which wants to solve problems of both present and future. To this approach, the study of Political Science should put importance on social change. To it political science must have some relevance to society. Along with relevance, this approach believes that action is the core of study political science. It accepts that political science needs to study all realities of politics, social change, values etc.

There are some basic characteristics of Post- Behavioural Approach. Importance on action and relevance, human problem oriented, qualitative and qualitative, concerned with regularities and irregularities are the basic features of Post-Behavioural Approach. David Easton has mentioned about seven key features of Post- Behavioural Approach to political science. Considering this seven features, he opined that substance must have precedence over technique, political science should put emphasis on social change, research in social science must not lose touch with reality, study should accord value also, study should also be future oriented etc. To him mad craze for scientism should be discarded as social science can’t be pure science at any cost. Therefore, we can say that Post- Behavioural Approach lays emphasis on substance than technique. It is an attempt to develop a practical, social change oriented approach to political science. Actually, the Post- Behavioural Approach refines the Behavioural Approach and tries to make it acceptable.


Anonymous said...

To what extent do you believe that post-behaviouralism addressed the grievances of behaviouralism's critics?

Anonymous said...

To what extent do you believe that post-behaviouralism has addressed the grievances of behaviouralism's critics?

Pankaj Bora said...

Post behaviouralism is the offshoot of behaviouralism. Therefore, we may say that it has tried to address the drawbacks of behaviouralism. However, we can’t say that post- behaviouralism is the last answer.

Anonymous said...

Pankaj, can you shed some light on Begriming theory of International relation???

Anonymous said...

I have seen an article, its called ethical study method also.But im not sure about it. if it is called as ethical study approach, can you explain me the reason , because there meanings are totally different.