African Journal of
Political Science and International Relations

  • Abbreviation: Afr. J. Pol. Sci. Int. Relat.
  • Language: English
  • ISSN: 1996-0832
  • DOI: 10.5897/AJPSIR
  • Start Year: 2007
  • Published Articles: 382


The crown of sciences: Can it be just a science? The journey of political science in the 20th century

Nasr M. Arif
Professor of Political Sciences, Cairo University, Egypt. 
Email: [email protected]

  •  Accepted: 22 September 2009
  •  Published: 30 November 2009


Throughout history there was an agreement that the position of Political Science is at the peak of the hierarchy of social and human disciplines. In Aristotle’s view, politics touches on all aspects of public life that the rulers should deal with. Therefore, Political Science, by nature, is different from all other fields of knowledge. The history of its development in the twentieth century is a manifestation of this thesis, or indeed a realistic embodiment of it. Starting from the second half of the nineteenth century until the 1970s, Political Science has sought to become just ‘a science’, like other social and sometimes natural sciences. This study, however, seeks to develop a distinct approach for studying the evolution of Political Science in the twentieth century by employing three approaches: history of science, sociology of science, and epistemology of science. These approaches will be spun together to enhance our understanding of the emergence and development of Political Science, which can safely be divided into these three stages: the independence stage, the behaviorist stage, and the stage of revision, criticism and 'post-isms'.


Key words: American political science, behaviorism, empiricism, European political science, evolution of political discipline, history of political science, paradigm shifts, political science, post-behaviorism, post-modernism.