Political sociology is a field of inquiry concerned with examining how oppression and power work in society from both micro to macro level of analysis. The scope of political sociology research is vast and spans many disciplines including government, political institutions, organizations, and groups, as well as the individuals who hold powerful political views. This research addresses many different issues affecting groups of people that face different forms of oppression such as racism, sexism, economic exploitation, gender, age, disability, and other socially relevant identities. In addition, political sociology also takes into account the histories and current state of affairs of specific societies at different historical moments.
The study of political sociology relies on methods that range from research to observation to qualitative methodologies. This field also makes use of quantitative methods like statistical studies, meta-analyses, and case studies. Additionally, political scientists utilize numerous modes of inquiry such as anthropology, history, law, and political science. However, political sociology scholars differ widely in their theoretical and practical approach to the field of political science. Some political sociologists emphasize the role of cultural systems in political processes while others analyze broader areas such as political economy, national and global identities, ethnicity, religion, war, and gender.
There are two major categories of political sociology that are prominent in contemporary political sociology research. The first category refers to political science and political philosophy that are theoretically grounded in sociological theories. Most modern sociologists within this category focus on institutions and politics in the developed world. The second category constitutes political sociology that is a result of the interaction of particular social agents in the context of the nation-state. This type of research tends to be more empirical than theoretical in nature and addresses issues that arise out of contemporary political life.
The field of political sociology is intimately linked to theories of constitutionalism, liberalism, socialism, radicalism, and traditionalism. These theories deal with society, political organizations, government, and political power. Within this broad perspective, modern political sociology scholars also talk about notions of gender, ethnicity, national, and global identities, and class. It is important to note that political sociology is usually much more theoretical than scientific because political science and social science have traditionally been conceived as empirical and research oriented fields. Political sociologists tend to be interested in issues that affect the public, rather than theoretical issues.
One of the most influential sociological theories in the field of political sociology is the notion of mass media influence. Mass media, especially newspapers and television stations exert a great influence on public opinion. As a result, citizens begin to form a sense of societal responsibility and idealism. Consequently, they start identifying with a larger group rather than an elite. Furthermore, some political scientists believe that mass media has been responsible for creating the sense of national community that was lacking prior to the twentieth century. Social scientists have theorized that the mass media has contributed to political equality in terms of income, wealth, and political power.
The main reason why political sociology is very different from other sciences is that it has no theoretical frameworks. Because of this, political scientists are free to explore alternative approaches to solve problem. Political scientists follow three major avenues when they research social problems. First, they can explore descriptive methods. Second, they can use meta-analyses, which are studies that build on previous research to explain patterns, and third, they can perform exploratory studies, which allow them to gather data on various topics in order to build a picture of the environment.