Home Media & Culture Books Studying political sciences? This is the book you need! – Book Review

Studying political sciences? This is the book you need! – Book Review


Dr. Hazir Ullah |

This second edition of ‘A brief introduction to Political Science’ uses diverse real-world examples to show readers the relevance of government and state in our daily lives. This book is written from a unique and engaging political perspective. This is the best at providing clear explanations, practical applications, and current examples that, I do claim, develop readers’ interest in social sciences in general and indiscipline of Political Science in particular.

The book seems to be the first written in the 21st century. Most of the books on Political Science were written sometime in the second half of the 20th century. This was the period of cold war that had divided into western, socialist and non-aligned blocks. That period has its own language, dictions, phrases, jargons etc. The demise of the USSR ushered in a new era putting the divided world into globalization.

These theoretical explanations encompass various theories (i.e. Theory of Divine Origin, Theory of Force, Theories of Social Contract, Patriarchal theory, Matriarchal Theory, Evolutionary/ Historical theory etc).

This naturally changed the whole scenario, which necessitated a modern approach to the subject of Political Science. I feel this was the reason that prompted the author to write a textbook on Political Science keeping in view the revolutionary changes in society. The book contains a total of eight chapters covering almost all the topics considered essential for aspirants of competitive exams and the students of BS Political Science.

In chapter one, Dr. Khan gives a succinct account of the evaluation of Political Science as an academic discipline. This nuance historical perspective enriches readers not only with Political Sciences but also with philosophy, introducing readers to political philosophers such as Socratic, Plato Aristotle and encompasses enlightenment political thinkers i.e. Thomas Hobbes, John Lock, Rousseau, John Stuart Mill.

It further explains how the 21st-century political thinkers have built contemporary Political Science on the ideas and concepts of classical political thinkers. The chapter illustrates how various research methods can be used in the discipline of Political Science. In the pursuit of a more adequate understanding of the social world, Dr. Khan has very scholastically explained Political Science relationship with other social sciences such as Sociology, history, anthropology.

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The author here recognizes that an overall understanding of the social world is possible by getting familiar with the subject matter, similarities and differences among various social sciences and the ways each approach and explain the social world. Dr. Khan gives a very vivid account of these in his book.

Chapter two is intended to explain the state (a political entity in international law, commonly referred to as a country). Unlike conventional and traditional approaches, Khan has given very up-to-date definitions of the state (i.e., state is group/community of persons more less numerous, permanently occupying a defined territory, having a government of their own to which a great body of citizens render their obedience, and enjoy freedom from external control and threats). He explains how Pakistan is a state fitting into this definition.

The chapters highlight the types and importance of election in any state, especially democratic process. It further highlights the “The Suffrage” its historical roots, suffrage through ages, common methods of suffrage, and types of Suffrage.

He explained elements of the state (population, territory, government, and sovereignty) with examples. He has given a detailed account of the theories that explain the origin of the state. These theoretical explanations encompass various theories (i.e. Theory of Divine Origin, Theory of Force, Theories of Social Contract, Patriarchal theory, Matriarchal Theory, Evolutionary/ Historical theory etc). The chapter further spotlights the relationship between state and society. It explains the relationship between political regimes and social movement emergence and success.

It also explains the strengths and weaknesses in state and society relationship.  The entire discussion is theoretically informed taking into account Machiavelli, Ibn-Khaldun, Al-Mawardi and Al-Ghazali, Thomas Hobbes, John Locke & Jean Jacques Rousseau. After discussing various political thinkers, the author argues the state should not be viewed as a form of association that subsumes or subordinates all others.

Chapter three focuses on ‘individual in the political community’. It explains the law as a body of norms, customs and written rules that regulate the behavior of individuals and organization. The author gives a succinct account of the philosophy and various sources of law. It further illustrates the types and kinds of laws both international and national with special consideration to Islamic Law, sources of Islamic Law, morality, Liberty, Equality, Rights, and Duties in a secular state, Rights, and duties of individual under Islamic state/ Sharia.

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It can be argued that the chapter explains that the law shapes our lives from our condition of birth to our condition of death and everything else in between. Reading the chapter equips the readers to see to see how law and rule of law make seek our obedience to the state.

Chapter four addresses various forms of government. It starts with the traditional classification of Government (starting from Plato and Aristotle) to the modern classification of Government. The chapter explains how do the various types of government-Democracy, Totalitarianism, Authoritarianism/ Dictatorship, Confederation, Federation and Confederation–A difference, Parliamentary Form of Government, Monarchy, Oligarchy-differ? The author has very skilfully explained that political systems display marked variety throughout human history as well as around the world today. The comparison of various types of governments equips students with the analytical skills to be informed, democratic citizens.

Chapter five revolves around the structure and role of the government. The chapter starts with a theory of separation of powers with a special emphasis on Montesquieu’s theory of Separation of Powers. It focuses on Legislature: Lawmaking,  Structure of Legislature, Unicameral Legislature (Unicameralism), Bicameral Legislature (Bicameralism) Deciding between Unicameral and Bicameral, Executive: Law enforcing, Judiciary: law adjudicating, Rule of Law.

I do not feel hesitant to say that it is one of the best introductory books in the field of Political Science appeared in the 21st century. Each chapter is clear, thorough, and well formatted with key reference and explanations of terms and concepts.

The chapter provides an informed analysis of the concept of power in its traditional meaning: the ability to achieve the desired ends despite resistance from others- to its contemporary meaning knowledge as the power which exists with everyone and in all social relations. It provides a nuanced explanation of the law, power, and rule of law.

Chapter six is about political process and dynamics. The chapters highlight the types and importance of election in any state, especially democratic process. It further highlights the “The Suffrage” its historical roots, suffrage through ages, common methods of suffrage, and types of Suffrage. However, it could have been excellent here if the author gives due consideration to the women suffrage movement.

The author has given a very scholarly touch to the discussion of political parties, functions of political parties, channels of party communication, types of political parties and the importance of two or more than two parties for a real democratic government. The author has explained the role of pressure groups and its role in political processes. The chapter gives a very enlightening explanation of the Public Opinion with an assertion that public opinion is important in a democracy because the people are the ultimate source of political power.

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Chapter seven illustrates political and economic ideologies and systems that rule the world. This chapter introduces the students of Political Science, sociology, anthropology, history, psychology with key concepts and ideas such as Individualism, Anarchism, Capitalism, Socialism, Marxism, Communism, and Imperialism. This chapter addresses the needs of all disciplines and engages not only the academicians but common people as most of us know and talk something about these ideologies and system as teachers, students, business people, lawyers, psychologists and common citizens of society.

In the final chapter, Dr. Zafar Khan has attempted to familiarize the readers with the historical origin, structure, and gaols of the various international and national organizations. In sum, this book constitutes, in my opinion, the best textbook for the undergraduate students of Political Science, sociology and other social sciences.

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I do not feel hesitant to say that it is one of the best introductory books in the field of Political Science appeared in the 21st century. Each chapter is clear, thorough, and well formatted with key reference and explanations of terms and concepts. I hope the teaching community and the educated segment of our society will welcome this new addition.

Dr. Hazir Ullah is Deputy Dean, Associate Professor and Chairman of Sociology department, International Islamic University Islamabad. Dr. Hazir has authored two books and published 30 research papers. The views expressed in this article are author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space. 

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