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Political Sociology

Political sociology seeks to understand the process of interaction between government and society, decision making authorities and conflicting social forces and interests. It is the study of interactions and linkages between politics and society, between a political system and its social, economic, and cultural environment. It is concerned with problems regarding the management of conflict, the articulation of interests and issues and political integration and organization. The focal point in all these concerns is the inter dependence and the interplay of socio-cultural, economic, and political elements. Political sociology came to be identified with the study of the social bases of political behavior and institutions. Political variables were deemed to be dependent upon sociological variables. Whereas sociological variables such as society, class and status were held as independent factors, political variables such as the state, law, constitution, and political parties were seen as dependent on the former. S.M Lipset identified the social determinants or bases of political behavior. Political institutions and phenomena were to be studied and analyzed in terms of sociological variables such as class and group. Symptomatic of these approaches are the psephological studies which remained a favorite with social psychologists who sought to explain voting behavior in terms of psychological factors or motives and with sociologists who explained it in terms of sociological variables such as class, ethnicity, religion as well as attitudes and orientation towards participation. According to Bendix and Lipset, political sociology starts with society and examines how it affects the state and examines how it affects society. Lewis Coser says that political sociology is that branch of sociology which is concerned with the social causes and consequences of given power distribution within or between societies and with the social and political conflicts that lead to changes in the allocation of power. This view regarding the nature and scope of political sociology has been challenged by Sartori who seeks to emphasize the autonomy of politics and the impact of politics on the molding of social and economic structure or behavior. According to Sartori it is one thing to study how class factors influence political behavior and quite another to examine how the system affects class in its political processes.