Is politics a science?
1. Older teaching of politicsThe doctrine of politics at universities is as old as the university itself: Both go back to the European Middle Ages. In the Middle Ages, under the dominant influence of the teachings of Aristotle, the doctrine of politics was more an appendage to practical philosophy, in the early modern period it was elevated to the rank of an independent subject with independent chairs in the wake of the Protestant Reformation.
In addition to this political science (PW) in the singular, a whole spectrum of political sciences in the majority developed in the early modern period in accordance with the differentiated areas of state activity. These included the older police science as the subject of the organization and content of internal administration - the older understanding of "policey" was much more comprehensive than the modern police concept, which is limited to the maintenance of security and order - and camera science as that Doctrine of princely finances, economics as both house and state economics, the older statistics as a descriptive historical doctrine of the state of states and a whole range of technological subjects (agriculture, forestry, mining, etc.). From the middle of the 18th century, the term political science became established for this multitude of political sciences (cf. Bleek 2003).
Under the influence of the Enlightenment towards the end of the 18th century, offense was taken not only by the abundant government of the absolutist and mercantilist administrative state, but also by the utilitarianism of its political science. Police science developed into administrative law, political economics into the economics revolutionized by Adam Smith, political science into modern statistics and history. The core subject of politics survived in the first half of the 19th century in the form of a philosophically (e.g. Hegel and Schleiermacher) or historically (especially Dahlmann) oriented liberal-bourgeois constitutional theory. The charisma of the "political professors" in this time of the late bloom of the older political theory reached far beyond the educational studies at the reformed scientific universities in the political public, they were also through acts of resistance like the protest of the Göttingen seven under Dahlmann against the constitutional breach of the Hanoverian king (1837) recognized spokesmen for the liberal-constitutional movement of the educated bourgeoisie. The participation of political professors in the German constituent national assembly in the years 1848/49 represented the high point, but also the turning point in the public reputation and in the political significance of the teaching of politics in D. It disappeared towards the end of the 19th century the previously respected and influential university discipline largely from the academic canon of subjects in the German Reich.
2. Political science in the Weimar Republic and under National SocialismWith the introduction of the democratic constitutional order in the Weimar Republic (1919), the experiment of re-establishing politics as an academic science was linked in Germany. It was based on the programmatic insights of M. Weber and the liberal publicist and politician F. Naumann into the necessity of a democratic education of the → political elite. Since the establishment of not only sociology but also the PW at the universities, which the Prussian university reformer C. H. Becker was striving for, could not be achieved, the focus was on the "German University of Politics" (DHfP) founded in Berlin in 1920.
The DHfP assumed a variety of functions, not only as a community college and technical college, but from 1927 also as an academic university with a research department. This development was interrupted by the "seizure of power" by the National Socialists in 1933, the university was brought into line with a National Socialist training institute and in 1940 it was integrated into the "Foreign Studies Faculty" of the Berlin University. The National Socialists also spoke of "political science", but did not mean a separate subject, but the politicization of all disciplines in the sense of their ideology. The majority of the democratic lecturers at the German University for Politics during the Weimar period emigrated and were particularly impressed by the professional and self-confident political science in the USA (cf. Söllner 1996).
3. Re-establishment in the Federal RepublicThe Federal Republic was more successful than the efforts in the Weimar Republic not only to enforce a democratic constitutional order, but also to make an academic contribution to these efforts by establishing the PW as a science of democracy. These activities began in 1948 with the revival of the German School of Politics in Berlin as a non-university institution.
Decisive for the permanent (re) establishment of the PW in West Germany, however, was its implementation as a university subject (cf. Mohr 1988). The occupying powers, especially the Americans, disregarded conservative reservations at the German universities and, as part of their policy of "re-education", the re-education of Germans to become democrats, in 1949/50 urged several conferences with German university representatives and cultural politicians on the establishment of a scientific discipline from politics. The first chairs for "Scientific Politics" were filled at the beginning of the 1950s, starting from the country HE, with proven anti-fascists who had survived in Germany. In addition, there were returnees from emigration who had become familiar with political science, especially in the USA.
Establishing the PW in the young Federal Republic also included the establishment of a relevant professional association and the publication of a specialist journal, following the American model: In 1952 the "German Association for Science of Politics" was founded (since 1959, "German Association for Political Science", DVPW ), which initially achieved the revival of the "Zeitschrift für Politik", which has been published since 1908, and has published the "Politische Vierteljahresschrift" (PVS) as a scientific periodical since 1960.
The content-related profile of the young West German PW resulted from their self-image as "democracy science": a term that was used at the Waldleiningen founding conference in September 1949. The original political science topics arose from the political and historical constellation of the (re) establishment of democracy in (West) Germany: The establishment of a democracy first and foremost required dealing with the recent German past, in particular the explanation of the failure of the first German democracy and the seizure of power by the National Socialist dictatorship in 1933. In this regard, young political scientists such as KD Bracher and K. Sontheimer did pioneering work in contemporary history in the 1950s. In addition, the West German PW began teaching and researching the → GDR as the second German state and the communist dictatorship that ruled it (later expanded to include comparative → Germany research). The third field was the theory and empiricism of → democracy, especially in the areas of parliamentarism, → party and → electoral research. All of these political science sub-areas were founded on the history of ideas through the reception of the "political classics".
With these subject areas, but also a limited teaching staff - at most West German universities there was only one political science chair, if at all - the West German PW primarily made a contribution to the general civic study program in the 1950s, to the general → political education of students. Only in West Berlin was the subject one step further: in 1952, several chairs in political science were established at the Free University on the basis of a cooperation agreement with the DHfP, and in 1959, when the DHfP was incorporated into the FU as the "Otto Suhr Institute", they were already in place Over 10 professorships differentiated according to the political science sub-areas. At the urging of the Berlin students, an independent training course for "diploma political scientists" was set up.
Source: Andersen, Uwe / Wichard Woyke (ed.): Concise dictionary of the political system of the Federal Republic of Germany. 7th, updated Aufl. Heidelberg: Springer VS 2013. Author of the article: Wilhelm Bleek
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