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I have seen this word "politology" twice recently on politics.SE [here and here]. What does it mean? Judging by the context it seems to be similar to political science.

I googled it, but only got some fairly useless results:

The mostly European/Eurasian field of Politology is different in orientation from American-defined Political Science, to which it is related. Wikipedia

And:

The branch of social science concerned with theory, description, analysis and prediction of political behavior, political systems and politics broadly-construed. Wiktionary

This definition listed "political science" as a synonym.

What is politology? Is it the same as political science or is there some different scope or nuance?

  • Good question. Never heard of this myself. I suspect it might be judge the European way of saying political science. One of the users that used the phrase is from Germany, the other is unknown. – David says Reinstate Monica Apr 6 '17 at 18:00
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It is a synonym for political science.

In many European languages, politology is the word for political science.

Compare:

  • German: Politologie
  • French: Politologie
  • Polish: politologia
  • etc.

So, many people pick the shorter, albeit less used synonym. It also has a slightly broader, less formal clout to it.

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  • So politology is exactly the same as political science? How does that reconcile with what I found in my answer? – indigochild Apr 15 '17 at 18:01
  • It depends on the context. In most contexts in English it is synonymous, whenever used. However, it could relate to outdated or non-scientific studies, sometimes driven by propaganda, like in Eastern Europe 30 years ago. At the same time someone trying to add weight to unfounded claims could call it "political science" when it is not, at least not by western standards. In yet another instance references to European college courses could use local "Politology" term. Without a context, I would default to consider them synonyms. – Alex Pakka Apr 15 '17 at 18:42
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"Politology" describes the study of politics. However, it is not synonymous with "political science".

Politology is different than political science in a few ways:

  • Politology is the study of politics, but is not necessarily scientific. As a matter of practice, much of the work of academic political "scientists" is not science at all (such as the now popular critical theory) (JoP, 8:2).
  • Politology uses a similar naming convention to other areas of social research, such as psychology, sociology, anthropology, etc. These areas are (at times) also non-scientific. (see the footnote on the first page of this)

Finally, it is something of a regional term. Although uncommon in the United States, it is more common in Europe. For example, the University of Rzeszow in Poland has a Department of Politology as a part of their sociology and history faculty.

This may be true for strictly linguistic reasons, but European academics are less likely to study politics in a scientific way, unlike the American political scientists. This is all just to say that they are not referring to the same thing, but different academic disciplines that study the same object.

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  • 1
    "of the work of academic political "scientists" is not science at all" is this opinion or fact? Is it conditioned on a certain set of what political scientists do or what science is? – djechlin Apr 11 '17 at 6:04
  • @indigochild indeed: saying something "isn't science" isn't meant as an insult, simply a descriptor of the type of study. History and philosophy are humanities rather than sciences, and the study of politics often fits a lot better into those categories. That doesn't make history "worse" than geology. Honestly, I'm not a big fan of the term "political science"; a lot of political science is very valuable work that doesn't really fit any reasonably accepted definition of science, and that fact shouldn't something that academics hide from or act like is shameful. – Some_Guy Apr 24 '17 at 19:27
  • @indigochild well, there we disagree. To put it bluntly, I think there's about an equal amount of bollocks in the numbersy and non numbersy political science. And on a more positive note, the "sciencey" and "humanity-y" side of PolSci really need each other. There's plenty of non-statistical, non-numerical work about ideology, political philosophy, systems of government etc. that is valuable, whether because it addresses domains that aren't readily testable but are reasonable, or because political scientists after all have to know what hypotheses to test, and how to interpret the data. – Some_Guy Apr 24 '17 at 19:51

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