Introduction: Behaviouralism dominated in the study of political Science for a decade. However, the behviouralists drifted away from the path they had chosen for themselves. They got absorbed in finding out new techniques and methods for its study. In the process they lost the real subject matter. They got divided into two groups – the Theoretical behaviouralists and the positive
behviouralists. While the former laid emphasis purely on theory building, the latter concerned themselves with finding out new methods for the study of political phenomena. Consequently, certain behaviouralists got disillusioned with behaviouralism towards the close of sixties. The main attack upon behaviouralism came from David Easton who was one of the leading behaviouralists. According to him, there is a “post – behavioural revolution” underway which is born out of deep dissatisfaction with the attempt to covert political study into a discipline modelled on the methodology of the natural
sciences. In their efforts at research and application of scientific method, the behaviouralists had gone far away from the realities of social behavior. In this way, political science again lost touch with the current and contemporary issues.
Reasons for the growth of Post-Behaviouralism:
The chief reasons for the growth of post-behaviouralism are- failure of
the behaviouralists in addressing the social problems for their solutions; over-emphasis on research methods and tools, and consuming more time on conceptualizing or theory-building.
Features of Post-Behaviouralism:
Following are the characteristic features of post-behaviouralism-
1. It is a movement of Protest. It is a protest against the wrong direction
which the behaviouralists had given to political science. As such, the post-
behaviourasists stressed on “Relevance and Action”. They held that political science should be directed towards solving actual problems. So that it would be more relevant to the society. Political Scientists, according to them, should once again try to view political situation as a whole and in
a right manner. They should deliberate on the basic issues of society like justice, liberty, equality, democracy etc.
2. Opposition to ‘Value-free’ concept: David Easton, in his modification says that “value are inextinguishable parts of the study of politics. Science cannot be and never has been evaluatively neutral despite protestations to the contrary. Hence to understand the limits of our knowledge we need to be aware of the value premises on which it stands and alternatives for which this knowledge could be used”.
3. Future-oriented (Predictability):
Post-behaviouralism wants that the behaviouralists should link their
empirical methods of research and approach for making theories that
could solve present and future social problems. It must thus be future
oriented. According to Easton, “Although the post-behavioural revolution may have all appearancesof just another reaction to behaviouralism, it is infact notably different.
Behaviouralism was viewed as a threat to status quo; classicism and traditionalism…the post –behavioural revolution is, however, future oriented. It does not seek to return to some golden age of political research or to conserve to destroy a particular methodological approach. It seeks rather to proper political science in new direction.”
4. It is an Intellectual tendency:
Post-behaviouralism is both a movement and intellectual tendency. As a movement of protest, it has its followers among all sections of political scientists “in all generations from young, graduates to older members of the profession”. Easton says, it was “a genuine revolution, not a reaction; a becoming, not a preservation; a reform not a counter reformation.” It would be wrong to identify post-behaviouralism with any particular political ideology. The whole improbable diversity-political, methodologicaland generational – was bound together by one sentiment alone, a deep discontext with the direction of contemporary political research.
David Easton, as such, speaks of the following as important features of
1. Importance to substance over technique: Post-behaviouralists say, it may be good to have sophisticated tools of investigation, but the more important point is the purpose for which these tools are being applied. Unless scientific research is relevant and meaningful for contemporary social problems, it is not worth being
2. Emphasis on social change and not social preservation.
3. Greater focus on Reality.
Political science should address the needs of mankind by identifying
the future social problems and by suggesting solutions to such problems.
4. Recognition of the existing values: According to post-behaviouralists, unless values are regarded as the propelling force behind knowledge there is a danger that knowledge would lose purposes. If knowledge is to be used for right goals, values have to be
restored to the central position. Human values need protection.
5. It is Action-oriented:
Knowledge must be put to work. “To know”, as Easton points out “is to
bear the responsibility for acting, and to act is to engage in restoring society”. The post-behaviouralists as such, ask for action-science in place of
According to post-behaviouralists, once it is recognized that the
intellectuals have a positive role to play in society, and that this role is to try to determine proper goals for society and make society move in the direction of these goals, it becomes inevitable to politicize the profession-all professional
associations as well as universities thus become not only inseparable but
Post-behaviouralists advocate that political science should be related
to urgent social problems. It should therefore be purposive. Political scientists should find out solutions to contemporary problems. The research should be relevant to the understanding of social issues. Political scientists must play
the leading role in acting for the post-behavioural change. To quote Easton, ”the post-behavioural movement in political science is presenting us with a new image of our discipline and the obligations of our profession.”