when i tell people i study political science, they ask me two questions: one, what can you do with it? and two, so what do i think about politician x,y,z and what they did last week? so, once and for all … here is the answer:
what can you do with political science? everything, i say. everything.
politics is about people. it is about humans joining together by their nature, to conquer life in a collective manner. the group survives while the individual seems helpless in the laws of darwin’s evolution. within this collective arises discussion, discourse if you may, about several issues. and when people fight, hierarchies built themselves by the mere process of someone winning the argument. this dynamic distributes power to some. and this is what we call politics.
the discourse about scarce ressources and it’s resulting power is politics. the science is social for it is concerned with human beings. yet it is different to sociology by focusing on the distribution of power within a group of people we call society.
and yet it is neither the job, nor the interest, of a political scientist to know about, answer to, and have an opinion on every subject there is in local, national, regional, and international news. political science is much like any other science manifold in its approaches and subjects. consider medicine; being the most visual example, i assume: one can be a doctor for the skin, for the eyes, for the teeth, one can be a cardiologist, a dentist, and an urologist – and no body would get the idea to ask a surgeon about a tooth ache.
political science is about understanding processes and theories on the distribution of power and on individual and collective behavior in perspective to this power. it makes you aware of what happens around you, makes you skeptical and cautions on information. it broadens your view on the world in every new theory you encounter and in every discourse you lead, testing your own arguments against others. it is a fantastic way of experiencing the world around you more attentively and it gives you insights in dynamics, processes, and developments, that one might not be aware of otherwise. this knowledge can be used in every aspect that concerns the human being – so basically, you can actually use it (almost) everywhere.