What is Political Theory?

The word theory refers to a body of logically collected and analysed body of knowledge. And Politics as we know is about many things including relationships among individuals and groups and classes and the state, and state institutions like the judiciary, bureaucracy etc. So one definition of Political Theory given by David Weld sees political theory as a network of concepts and generalisations about political life involving ideas, assumptions and statements about the nature, purpose and key features of government, state and society, and about the political capabilities of human beings’. Andrew Hacker defines it as ‘a combination of a disinterested search for the principles of good state and good society on the one hand, and a disinterested search for knowledge of political and social realty on the other’. 

What is Political Theory ?

A rather comprehensive definition has been given by Gould and Kolb who defined political theory as a ‘sub-field of political science which includes: (i) political philosophy – a moral theory of politics and a historical study of political ideas, (ii) a scientific criterion, (iii) a linguistic analysis of political ideas, (iv) the discovery and systematic development of generalisations about political behaviour’. We can conclude that political theory is concerned basically with the study of the phenomenon of the state both in philosophy as well as empirical terms. An attempt is made to provide explanations, descriptions and prescriptions regarding the state and political institutions. Also of course there is an underlying theme of studying the moral philosophical purpose. The thinker Weinstein had put it very succinctly when he had suggested that political theory is basically an activity, which involves posing questions, developing responses to those questions and creating imaginative perspectives on the public life of human beings. the questions that are asked are like  what is the nature and purpose of the state and why should we prefer one form of state over another; how do we judge the ends, aims and methods of political organisation; what is and should be the relationship between the state and the individual. Through out history political theory has been answering these questions. It has been regarded as important because the fate of man is dependent on the kind of system of rulers and the ruled that is achieved and whether it leads to united action for the common good.

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