The concept of political sociology is the extended form of sociology which studies exclusively the relationship between the ruler or the state and the citizens and also the relationship among the citizens in a state. However, it is not limited to this study only. Its extended study includes the relationship between various states and conflicts between them.
In the history of man, politics is considered to be of utmost importance and its course during the time shapes the mankind of the future. The concern with political power, organization and authority have an important part in the making of man and the construction of an ideal view of authority from the citizen’s point of view. This reflection of political authority is crucial for social life and human existence.
Both the general orientations and particulars of such reflection has differed with time although the fact that they all had the vision of the political community as the basis for organized social life and of political relations. Over time these reflections have been developed into three main substreams.
The first substream is the Greek philosophy of politics and of Hebrew prophets who looked for best political order in terms of moral values. This is evident in the case of the “western” tradition.
The second one is of the compendiums written under the title “mirrors for princes”. These were nothing but detailed and comprehensive writings which encompasses the complete guide for rulers for the conduct of their duty. However, most of these compendiums were the manuals for the court proceedings and administration. Few among these had a rather more significant impact on political aspects like the problem of the bases of cohesion of different political systems, the bases of obedience and compliance of subjects, the proper political behaviour of rulers and most important of all proper administrative organization and behaviour polity.
The examples of such texts were rather more sophisticated and didn’t have a systematic form of facts e.g. Arthashastra from Kautilya, works of Aristotle. These texts also had more insight into the bases of cohesion and continuity of great political systems and studied mostly the relationship between the ruler and citizens. These works often came along with the religious insights to the political order and rule and tried to enhance a secular order of the society.
The third main substream that developed over the period was one which is best attributed to IBN KHALDUN. This sub-stream considers the study of various imperial political regimes (kingdoms) and their fates. The most important factor of Ibn Khaldun’s study was his fascination with the fall of great imperial political structures.
All the three sub-streams contributed to the establishment of the political sociology of which the first and last sub-streams made a higher degree of contribution. These socio-philosophical thoughts converted into modern social thought and analysis, with the moral-philosophical one along with technical-political one, which united to form the modern political sociology.
The changes which contributed to the establishment and development of modern-day political sociology are enlisted below:
- The growing emphasis on social and political thought and differentiation of civil and political order and the growing perception of people of civil society being an autonomous and distinct entity.
- The dialectical dissociation of patterns of individual behaviour about the transcendental and moral order.
- The growing recognition of a variety of types of social order, of their versatility.
- The growing recognition of the importance of environmental factors as influencing the social order of the time.
Each of these factors did lead to the starting point for sociological analysis and continuous recrystallization of problems of research. Many pioneers in this sector emerged like Auguste Comte, Max Weber, Emile Durkheim, Herbert Spencer, Karl Marx, etc. these scholars represented a wide variety of studies and their work also represents a slight flavour of history, economics, philosophy etc. in their sociological theories. The conditions under which sociology emerged were of a modernizing society and people supported established theories instead of religious texts from local saints or religious authorities.
However, there was a dichotomy in the earlier thoughts of sociology especially political sociology. This was due to the growing perception of a difference between the ‘State’ and the ‘Society’ as two distinct, nearly autonomous yet inter-related entities. The persistence of this dichotomy, however, could be found out on the further development of the sociological analysis and analytical concepts.
Within the general framework of sociological analysis and modern political sociology, in particular, there developed several more trends of analysis. These trends of research set out from different starting points, often each separated from the others and creating its separate tradition. Each trend is associated with a scholar or an idea which started the trend.
Despite a wide variety of definitions and the great amount of controversy about the ‘basic’ nature of the “political”, a relatively broader range of consensus can be recognized about some of the minimal definitions of the systematic nature of the political institutions in any society. Following are the definition of the attributes of the political system:
- The political system is the organization of a territorial society having a legitimate monopoly over authorized use and regulation of force in the society.
- It has the authority for defining the responsibilities to the system of which it is a part.
- Therefore, its organization imposes severe secular sanctions to implement the society’s main collective goals, maintain its internal order, and regulate its foreign relations. All social roles or groups fulfilling these distinct functions in a society, regardless of what other tasks they may perform, constitute the society’s political system.
This definition presupposes that every society necessarily features a political system, that is, that no society exists that implements its collective goals and maintains internal and external order without having a legitimate pattern of interaction using which these goals are implemented or this order is maintained. Specific political roles, as such, may not be distinguishable in some societies. But to deny their existence would be to argue that the fulfilment of political functions is random.
In today’s world definition, every country no matter how big or small it is does have an established or supposed authority which works as a political system for the country. Talking about the political system, every one of it has specified and defined purposes or jobs called the political activity. In discussing the main types of political activity, one must differentiate between the roles of the “ruler” and the “ruled”.
The Rulers are those who play the active part in the political process, those who define the goals, formulate and execute the rules, adjudicate and who contend for political support. The ruled, however, are those who are subject to the rules, who demand adjudications and who wish to influence the legislators.
In many societies, the same person may be a ruler at one time and ruled at other time and in another respect and the rulers may be also subject to the different rules promulgated by them. However, the broad distinction between rulers and ruled is inherent in the very nature of the political activity. In today’s world, the rulers are of different types and are very distinct from each other. From democracy to dictatorship, man has seen every possible regime through his timeline. The scope of political activity is evident in the areas of social life and social groups which are affected by the activities of central political organs and are dependent on those activities for the maintenance of their solidarity and organization.
The growing conceptual analytical and theoretical convergence in political sociology is becoming more and more evident in the various streams of research, be they anthropological, historical, macro-sociological, micro-sociological or psychological studies. Yet each of these tends obviously to go in its direction. It can be seen in the growing similarity of problems and concepts and the growing similarity of problems and concepts and the continuous mutual interrelationships between these various streams of research.
Hence, the political sociology is the branch which reflects the best image of the political system and those who claim these systems to be their rulers. This political system can also be considered as the common link between the citizens who are being ruled. These systems are usually linked to a country or a group of countries in some cases. These links often connect the rulers to do good to the people.
Political sociology hence studies these connecting links which set it apart from other disciplines.