The discipline of political science focuses on issues of power and governance and, in particular, on political institutions, both formal and informal. It also focuses on political behavior, political processes, political economy, and state-society relations.
The field consists of four substantive subfields: American politics, which covers such topics as national and local politics, elections, and constitutional law; comparative politics, which aims at understanding the political systems of other countries, both by studying individual states and by engaging in cross-national comparisons; international relations, which deals with the ways that states and other political actors behave in the international arena, including such topics as security, foreign policies, international organizations, and international economic relations; and political theory, which analyzes the history of normative political thought as well as of analytic concepts such as the nature of justice or liberty.
Other broad topics, such as “political economy,” or the study of the relationships between economic and political processes, overlap with the subfields, but also constitute a separate program (see below). Methodology, including statistical analysis and formal modeling, also occupies an important place in the discipline.