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Behaviouralism - Essay Example

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One of the most misunderstood concepts in the field of political science, behaviouralism, until recently continues to confuse students of politics and the social sciences. One of the most prominent figures of this discipline, Robert Dahl, admitted that our idea of the concept is both confounding and contradictory even though he referred to it as a 'successful protest' against impressionistic works.1 Until recently, the field of political science is haunted by the indelible marks that behaviouralism has left in the area of politics and political philosophy…
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All throughout its short history, behaviouralism and the definitions appended to it had always caused disagreements and confusion. Waldo for instance, stated that the even the concept itself emerged as confounding and vague.2 Easton admitted that those who endeavoured to define the idea only strove to bestow it his own personal definition3 and concluded that it was useless to classify behaviouralism using a definite categorization system4. A similar warning has been put forth by David Truman who argued that those who generalise the definition of behaviouralism commit blunders, as the concept was a rebellion against orthodox methodologies utilised in the study of politics.5 This is the difficulty in interpreting the meaning of behaviouralism, since authorities, to whom we can always base our interpretations, on this concept abound.6 The confusion brought about by the definition or the lack of it, led many to contend that behaviouralism did not seem to exist, at all. ...
dedness'.7 The term itself became more associated with various scholars, majority of them Americans, who showed disappointment on the achievements of orthodox political science, which based its study on history, philosophy and the 'descriptive-institutional approach'.8 These 'rebels' in the field asserted that other approach could either subsist or could be advanced in order to assist political science in providing it empirical methodology and systematic theories which would employ close, direct and 'rigorously controlled observations of political events'.9 At this time, the concept of political behaviour became more familiar after Charles E. Merriam initiated the call for research in this field. The call also included those involved in the study of political behaviour referred to as 'behaviouralists' although there were those who were more comfortable being labelled with the expression 'behaviourist'.10 However, David Easton insisted that it was significant to discriminate the 'behaviouralists' from the 'behaviourists'.11 The development of the concept spread more rapidly near the end of the 1940's and the start of the 50's, its period of rapid emergence and propagation. American political scientists of the era began to draw their theories and thoughts on these experiences. 12
Writings and literature on the subject continued to appear in the first half of the 20th century.13 In his book, Dwight Waldo first used the word 'behaviouralism' in the introductory text but there existed a few who used it much earlier. Scholars and political scientists began to use the expression more widely after 1956.14 However, the concept became more popular as more works appeared in that era in which the term 'behaviouralism' was mentioned in various publications. Critics against ... Read More
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