This book does not deal with politics per se, but rather with political science. The author does not supply a description of governments, parties, parliaments, and pressure groups; he does compare the different ways in which political scientists have identified structures and mechanisms underlying politics, the categories they have used to analyse its many manifestations. The text thus represents a reflection on politics ever since it has been considered the object of an empirical social science that, like other sciences, has achieved autonomous cognitive claims and institutionalised itself in universities and research centres. The author's thesis is that, after the decline of the state-centred paradigm, which dominated political theory up to the end of the 19th century, four different perspectives for the conceptualisation and analysis of politics have emerged. The ensuing four research programmes have been organised around the concepts of power, political system, political market, and collective identity. Each programme investigates specific aspects and levels of reality, focuses on particular problems, formulates hypotheses and supplies solutions regarding the crucial issues of order, co-operation and conflict.
Silvano Belligni teaches Political Science in the Faculty of Political Science at the University of Turin.