Posted: March 10th, 2023
Political science is a branch of social science that studies the organization, function, and development of government systems. It also focuses on public policy issues and political behavior. Political scientists use two main approaches to study politics: normative theory and positivist/behavioral theory. In this paper, both approaches will be discussed in terms of their differences and similarities in order to understand how they are used in the field of political science.
Normative theory involves ethical or moral standards used as a basis for judgment when making decisions about what should happen in society (Gelpi & Wright, 2018). This approach examines values-based reasoning to determine if something is right or wrong rather than relying solely on facts or evidence-based findings. Normative theories focus on ideals instead of reality and emphasize justice, fairness, equity, freedom from oppression, human rights protection, etc., as guiding principles when constructing policies (Hinckley & Norton , 2017).
Positivist/behavioral theory seeks to explain how people within governments actually behave when making decisions (Kernell et al., 2019). This approach uses data-driven analysis such as surveys and experiments to provide empirical support for claims made about political behavior. Unlike normative theory which emphasizes ideals over real behaviors, positivist/behavioral theory seeks to identify consistent patterns among individuals within different contexts (Mickunas & Southwell , 2018). This approach does not rely on values-based reasoning but instead looks at actual outcomes based on data collected from various sources.
Despite these differences between the two approaches there are some similarities between them as well. Both theories attempt to understand how people interact with one another in the context of politics by using either an idealistic or a data driven perspective respectively (Gelpi & Wright , 2018). Additionally both approaches draw heavily upon existing research methods such as interviews surveys and experiments while focusing primarily on individual attitudes beliefs motivations etc.. However while normative theorists look at these factors through the lens of morals ethics etc.. behavioral theorists focus mostly on identifying trends among specific populations or groups (Kernell et al., 2019; Mickunas & Southwell , 2018) .
Both normative and positivist/behavioral theories have been widely used within the field of political science for decades contributing valuable insights into our understanding of politics today . Normative theories allow us to consider ethical implications associated with certain decisions while providing ideas for future reforms . On the other hand positivist/behavioral theoretical frameworks help us identify patterns amongst individuals that can be used predictively allowing us understand more accurately where certain actions may lead . Through this combination scholars are able to make more informed conclusions regarding important topics like international relations voting behavior economic policymaking etc.(Hinckley & Norton , 2017; Kernell et al., 2019 ; Gelpi & Wright ,2018 ).
In conclusion despite their differences both normative and behavioral approaches play an important role in helping researchers gain insight into complicated areas like politics by providing different perspectives when analyzing information gathered from multiple sources . By combining traditional scholarship with empirically supported findings we can gain better understanding our world today so that we may develop better solutions addressing contemporary problems faced by societies worldwide(Mickunas & Southwell ,2018 ).
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