This book introduces the theories and methods that political scientists use, which tells us a great deal about the nature of political science. To us, political science is best defined in terms of what political scientists do. Of course, there are thousands of political scientists around the world and we have tried to capture and clarify the variety of ways they seek to understand, explore and analyse the complex processes of politics in the modern era. We are interested in how they differ in their approach, but also in what they share. Our book identifies nine approaches used by political scientists and then explores some of the specific research methods, which are used in different combinations by scholars from these different approaches. All disciplines tend to be chaotic, to some extent, in their development (Abbott, 2001) and political science is certainly no exception. However, we would argue that the variety of approaches and debates explored in this book are a reflection of its richness and growing maturity. When trying to understand something as complex, contingent and chaotic as politics, it is not surprising that academics have developed a great variety of approaches. For those studying the discipline for the first time, it may be disconcerting that there is no agreed approach or method of study. Indeed, as we shall see, there is not even agreement about the nature of politics itself. But, we argue that political scientists should celebrate diversity, rather than see it as a problem.
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