1st Edition

The Analysis of Political Structure

By David Easton Copyright 1990
    354 Pages
    by Routledge

    First Published in 1990, The Analysis of Political Structure is a major work of theory by one of our leading political scientists. David Easton here comes to grips with the nature of political structure, the way in which a political system is organized for making decisions, or its regime. Current methodologies within political science have failed to anticipate regime changes. We know little about the conditions for the emergence, maintenance, or decline of democratic or authoritarian types of regime structures. For example, the changes in Eastern Europe have come as a complete surprise. This liability to predict is, Easton argues, in part due to the limitations of the decompositional research typical of political science. Easton applies a method informed by theories of structuralism to the largely untouched field of political analysis. He takes a holistic systems analysis approach in place of predominant decompositional methods and argues that the organizational structure of political systems decides the forms regimes take.

    To support his case, Easton notably engages the work of Nicos Poulantzas, a leading structural Althusserian Marxist. He shows how Poulantzas’ work supports the new statist movement, which fails to account for the variety of forms of regimes. This is a must read for students and scholars of political science.

    Preface Prologue Part I: Structure in Political Research 1. Structure and Contemporary Political Analysis 2. Political Structure Revived 3. Structure in Political Explanation 4. Meaning of Political Structure 5. Varieties of Political Structures 6. Effects of Nonformal Political Structures 7. Effects of Formal Political Structures 8. Structuralism as a Theory of Determination 9. Structuralism, Systems Analysis, and Higher-Order Structures 10. Comparative Research and Whole System Constraint Part II: The Structuralism of Nicos Poulantzas 11. Poulantzas: Marxism Redefined 12. Structuralist Marxism and Systems Analysis 13. A Structuralist Explanation of the State 14. The State a Structural Object 15. The Structural Forms of the Political System 16. The Transformation to Authoritarian Political Structures Part III: Higher Order Structures 17. Higher Order Structures: As Explanation 18. Higher Order Structures: Their Composition and Influence 19. Substance versus Methods Notes Index of Names Index of Subjects


    David Easton was a Canadian-born American political scientist. At the forefront of both the behavioralist and post-behavioralist revolutions in the discipline of political science during the 1950s and 1970s, Easton provided the discipline's most widely used definition of politics as the authoritative allocation of values for the society. He was appointed Distinguished Research Professor in the Department of Political Science, University of California, Irvine in 1997.

    Review of the original publication:

    “This is clearly a major work detailed in treatment, lucid in exposition and, most important of all, richly suggestive in analysis- by one of our most distinguished contemporary theorists. Professor Easton has demonstrated, once again, his extraordinary talents as both intellectual critic and constructive philosopher.”

    -          Albert Somit, Southern Illinois University at Carbondale