Introduction to Political Science
The Other Social Sciences
Social sciences study how people interact with and relate to one another. Political science, with its emphasis on political systems and the distribution of power, falls into this larger academic category. A multidisciplinary field, political science draws from some other social sciences, including sociology, economics, psychology, and anthropology.
Sociology studies social life and human interactions, from how groups form to how large organizations run to how people interact with one another. Political scientists make use of sociological studies and methods when examining, for example, how small group dynamics affect the decision-making process, how people acquire and maintain power, and how political culture shapes our attitudes.
Politics and economics often intersect. Studying government without also studying economics, especially in free-market societies such as the United States, is not possible. Political scientists examine such economic issues as the effects government policy has on the economy, the role money plays in campaigns, and how nations arrive at trade agreements.
Psychology studies the way the human mind works, helping us to understand why people behave the way that they do. Political scientists sometimes use the insights of psychology to analyze a president’s or voter’s behavior or to explain why some people are more prone to supporting certain governments and ideologies.
Anthropology examines cultures within a society and theorizes about how those cultures affect society. Anthropologists explore how people acquire cultural values. Because culture often has a strong effect on behavior, political scientists rely on anthropological studies and methods.