(1) Continuum Model
(2) The Stages Model.
(1) Continuum Model:
Continuum Model of political development tends to view the developmental process in terms of a series of discrete variables, each identified by a range of possible stages that national entities may be in at various times with respect to some specific criterion.
In such a model, political development is analysed in terms of several socioeconomic, cultural and political factors. For examples, G.N.P., G.N.P. per capita, percentage of literacy, percentage of adult literacy, ratio of hospital beds to population, percentage of government employees, percentage of educated unemployed, percentage of popular participation in elections and the like are used as variables for classifying nations. Data about such factors can be quantified.
This is supplemented by less qualitifiable and more judgemental criteria such as degree of bargaining which takes place between autonomous political groups, or the extent to which merit-criterion are employed in the recruitment and promotion of government employees or the extent to which charismatic leaders tend to prevail at the national level. Variables of both quantitative and judgemental nature can be subjected to multi-variate analysis or factor analysis for testing hypothesis as to relationships between variables.
This model can be used by researchers who want to analyse a functional relationship between social, economic, psychological and political indicators of political development and examine the pattern of development from one stage to the other.
However, this model has a limitation. As Wasby observes, “Its drawback is the danger of fragmentation of concern, especially in the absence of any over-arching theory.” It is useful only when the researcher selects a small number of inter-connected factors for analysing political development.
(2) The Stages Model:
The second popular model for the study of political development is the Stages Model. It posits several developmental stages, each with several ascribed characteristics, and analyses a political system to determine the developmental stage at which it is currently there and the next stage it is heading for or is likely to head for.
Here, as Wasby writes, “There is either a Marxian like confinement to one explanatory factor as the key to the transition from one stage to another, or an attempt to bring together a configuration of inter-related factors which are expected to alter in unison from forms appropriate to a given stage of development to those appropriate to the succeeding stage”.
In the development of a stages model, political scientists usually suggest three stages of political development:
(i) The traditional stage, characterised by an overwhelmingly rural society, and agrarian economy with appropriate political forms;
(ii) The transitional stage, still with a rural society but characterised by an economy embarking upon the early stages of industrialisation and a political system which is accordingly undergoing transformation; and
(iii) The modern stage, characterised by a largely urban society and a mature industrial economy, with the appropriate political forms.
In a general sense, a political system moves from traditional to transitional to modern. The variables of development are the nature and level of power structure, sub-system autonomy, and secularisation of culture, centrally engineered economy, structural differentiation and functional specialisation.
In the traditional stage of political development, there are local concentrations of power with little articulation between the centre and the periphery. It heads towards a transitional stage.
The transitional stage is characterised by trends involving increasing participation of the masses in the political system and towards an improvement in the technical means of expanding the power of the centre and the periphery.
From transitional stage, the political system tends to become a modern system with a centrally engineered economy with developed institutional means involving the whole society into the national efforts.
The political culture of the political system keeps on developing, along with these three stages; from parochial (Traditional) to subject (Developing) to participant (Developed) stage.
The Stages models for the study of political development have been criticised by the critics on the ground that these over-simplify highly complex phenomena. Further, these models try to impose the “ideas” developed in the western countries over the Third World countries by defining a developed political system and its political culture in terms of the developments taking place in countries like the USA. In several extreme Stages models, the scholars have been guilty of offering a single factor explanation of political development.
Discussing both types of models-The Continuum and Stages models, Wasby writes, “Both types of models are based upon an image of a largely dependent political realm and a largely independent extra political realm with movement in economic, social, psychological and political realms highly inter-correlated.
All tend to look to the same general factors to explain why different countries have political institutions with different capabilities and why the capabilities of political institutions in a given country change over time”.
All these models and theories of political development have virtually failed to provide a uniformly accepted theory of political development. This failure has been largely due to disagreement regarding the meaning and definition of political development.
Some political scientists stress the role of extra-political factors in political change while many others emphasise the role of political factors over the extra-political factors in political development. Difference of opinion over this issue continues to leave political scientists still grappling with the problem of theorising political development.
The changes that came in the (former) USSR in the era of Perestroika and Glasnost and its impact on the political systems of Eastern European countries gave a rude shock to the traditional interpretations of Marxian concept of political development.
These developments, in a way, strengthened faith in the deterministic role of economic factors in political change, but, in another way, these showed a virtual rejection of Marxian view of the transitional and the highest stage of socialistic development. Likewise, in western liberal democratic countries also the nature of political changes has been undergoing several new unorthodox types of changes.
As against these two models-Marxian and Western liberal democratic models of political development, in several Third World countries like India, political development has been taking place in a synthetic way-Democratic-Socialistic-Capitalistic Development.
Thus, there is still to be developed a universal model of political development, and the chances of its development do not appear to be bright. The prevailing diversities in the world are bound to keep limited the progress towards the development of a universal and accepted model of Political Development.