People aiming to study and understand some aspect of society from an objective perspective have to consider whether their subject is influenced by political power or not. The difference between political and non-political subjects is fundamental because political power usually has a strong influence which must be explicitly accounted for. For the purposes of this essay and the following ones I will think of social studies (social science, theory and philosophy) as being divided into two subcategories: a political and a non-political (or apolitical) one.
Starting from this twofold division, I intend to examine two things. The first is the basic categorization of political studies into political science, political theory and political philosophy. What separates and links these three fields from and to each other? The second is how they compare with a similar division in apolitical studies: apolitical science, apolitical theory and apolitical philosophy.
The word “apolitical” may seem awkward, but I will use it simply to avoid the misleading use of “social science” and “social theory” as parallel alternatives to “political science” and “political theory”. In my usage the word “social” designates the general category and “political” and apolitical” are its two subcategories.