Political science or political studies or government is a rather odd subject, something of a mixture, as indicated by its diverse origins and the various influences which have moulded it. In our universities it was affected by and grew out of the study of the classics, philosophy, law and jurisprudence, economics, history, geography, literature, and so on. The list of pre-existing and established academic subjects which acted as a sort of hydra-headed godfather is considerable. An important impulse in its development was provided, too, by ideology and practical purpose. I have in mind here the ethos represented, for instance, by the Webbs and the foundation of the LSE, by the teaching of people such as Cole, Laski, Hobhouse, Tawney and, more remotely, Green and Jowett. The idea was that the subject was one of considerable pragmatic value and offered practical advantages to be achieved, perhaps, by some sort of reforming doctrinal emphasis. But the general effect of this variety of influences and stress is that there is no obvious or uniform academic focus: the subject seems (in terms of the intellectual and other forces at work) essentially eclectic. Nevertheless something like a traditional form did emerge. Generally there was a distinction between ‘institutions’ and ‘theory’, though naturally, given the dissimilar sources and influences mentioned, what has been comprised by these titles has varied somewhat. ‘Institutions’, for example, could cover a concentration on the formal machinery of government simply or it might expand to embrace parties, groups, the formation of opinion and so on.
* University College, Swansea.