Political Science and Public Administration

We have read about the dichotomy between the politics and administration. Subsequently, we also read about how the later authors and subject matter experts opposed the earlier dichotomy and insisted that politics and administration cannot be viewed in isolation. In this section let us try to understand the relationship between the politics and administration.

According to the political scientist James Pfiffner, the politics and administration are so closely knit together that it becomes difficult to draw the line where one ends and the other begins. Politics is the study of power which is the latest definition of the term. According to Raymond Aron, politics is the study of authority relations between the individual and groups and the hierarchy power which establishes itself within all numerous and complex communities. As per this definition, since, power is kind of omnipresent, it is safe to assume that it has an important say in the matters of public administration as well.

Another important figure in the field was Dwight Waldo, an American political scientist and a prominent figure in the area of modern public administration. In his book: The administrative state: a study of the political theory of American public administration, he explains an interesting phenomenon regarding the evolution of reforms in civil services in USA. The principal concern of early civil service reformers was not greater administrative efficiency but was cleansing and promoting democracy. The primary issue was not increasing efficiency but was protecting and building moral.

There is no argument regarding the fact that public administration emerged as a discipline of political science, the former deals with the output of the Government machinery and the latter with the input. It can also be put as such that, political science provides the framework within which public administration functions. From the academic perspective, both these subjects share a number of common areas of study like constitutional law, administrative law, delegated legislation, government budgeting and local governments amongst many other. So, a comprehensive understanding of both the subjects is mutually inclusive to each other, to learn one, the other has to be mastered as well.

Another important academic field from which public administration heavily borrows and is deeply influenced is the Sociology. It is a branch of study which deals with social order, change, class, conflict, problems, associations and institutions. According to Marshal Edward Dimock, administration takes place in a social setting and it is the society which determines the pattern of administration. He goes ahead and adds that through an administrative leadership however, the society itself can be changed for good. He says that the job of a public administrator is not mere administration but that of a social engineer who can bring about desirable changes in the society.

In the modern times, the various activities which the society governed and administered itself like community welfare, health, security etc have been taken over by the Government and public administration departments. The social control has been replaced by administrative controls and hence, it makes sense for the public administrators to be in sync with societal goals.

We have constantly been referring to diverse subjects to understand public administration better; the reader is now in a position to understand the relevance, importance and vastness of this subject which has an immediate and direct interaction with us in our everyday lives.


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