Delimitation of Scope

  • W. J. M. Mackenzie
Part of the Studies in Comparative Politics book series


Prima facie, there are three ways of delimiting the range and scope of political science: by subject matter, by purpose, and by methods. These categories are interdependent, and can best be regarded as dimensions. It is a historical observation (and perhaps it is also true analytically) that political science is inseparable from political life. We have at present a divided world, ruled by diverse states, ideologies and interests. It is not therefore surprising that the discipline lacks unity. Nevertheless a world ‘polity’ or political system (rather than a world ‘state’) is foreshadowed or sketched out, and it may be possible for political science to grow towards unity in the study of world politics, as in previous phases it grew towards unity in the study of the vacs., or the empire or the state. One can now recognise (at a conference of the International Political Science Association, for instance) that we have moved a long way towards universality in concepts, methods and controversies; nevertheless there remain marked differences in the structure of political science as between different states and different academic traditions. To some extent, these differences can be stated (though not measured) in terms of these three dimensions: subject matter, purpose, and the fundamentals of method.


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Copyright information

© W. J. M. Mackenzie 1970

Authors and Affiliations

  • W. J. M. Mackenzie
    • 1
  1. 1.University of GlasgowUK

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