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Political Science
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Political psychology
Voting behavior
Political economic systems
Personality aspects
Biological aspects

Biopolitics Genopolitics Neuropolitics

The interdisciplinary study of biology and political science is the application of theories and methods from the biology toward the scientific understanding of political behavior. The field is sometimes called biopolitics, a term that will be used in this article as a synonym although it has other, less related meanings. More generally, the field has also been called "politics and the life sciences".[1]


Template:Expand section The field can be said to originate with the 1968 manifesto of Albert Somit, Towards a more Biologically Oriented Political Science, which appeared in the Midwest Journal of Political Science.[2][3] The term "biopolitics" was appropriated for this area of study by Thomas Thorton, who used it as the title of his 1970 book.[2]

The Association for Politics and the Life Sciences was formed in 1981 and exists to study the field of biopolitics as a subfield of political science. APLS owns and publishes an academic peer-reviewed journal called Politics and the Life Sciences (PLS). The journal is edited in the United States at the University of Maryland, College Park’s School of Public Policy, in Maryland.[4]

By the late 1990s and since, biopolitics research has expanded rapidly, especially in the areas of evolutionary theory,[5] genetics,[6] and neuroscience.[7]


Topics addressed in political science from these perspectives include: public opinion and criminal justice attitudes,[8] political ideology,[9] (e.g. the correlates of biology and political orientation), voting behavior,[10] and warfare.[11] Debates persist inside the field and out, regarding genetic and biological determinism.[12] Important recent surveys of leading research in biopolitics have been published in the journals Political Psychology and Science.[13]

See also


  1. Blank, Robert H., and Samuel M. Hines. 2001. Biology and Political Science. New York: Routledge; Somit, A., and S. A. Peterson. 1998. "Review article: Biopolitics after three decades - A balance sheet." British Journal of Political Science 28:559-71; Masters, Roger D. 1989. The Nature of Politics. New Haven: Yale University Press.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Mary Maxwell (1991). The Sociobiological Imagination, SUNY Press.
  3. Template:Jstor
  4. Association for Politics and the Life Sciences.
  5. Sidanius, Jim, and Robert Kurzban. 2003. "Evolutionary Approaches to Political Psychology." In Oxford Handbook of Political Psychology, ed. D. O. Sears, L. Huddie and R. Jervis. New York: Oxford University Press.
  6. Alford, J. R., C. L. Funk, and J. R. Hibbing. 2005. "Are political orientations genetically transmitted?" American Political Science Review 99 (2):153-67; Hatemi, Peter K., Carolyn L. Funk, Hermine Maes, Judy Silberg, Sarah E. Medland, Nicholas Martin, and Lyndon Eaves. 2009. "Genetic Influences on Political Attitudes over the Life Course." Journal of Politics 71 (3):1141-56.
  7. Schreiber, Darren. 2011. “From SCAN to Neuropolitics. In Man is By Nature a Political Animal, edited by P. K. Hatemi and R. McDermott. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
  8. Petersen, Michael Bang. 2009. “Public Opinion and Evolved Heuristics: The Role of Category-Based Inference.” Journal of Cognition and Culture. 9:367-389
  9. Charney, Evan. 2008. “Genes and Ideologies.” Perspectives on Politics 6 (2):299-319; Alford, John R., Carolyn L. Funk, and John R. Hibbing. 2008. “Beyond Liberals and Conservatives to Political Genotypes and Phenotypes.” Perspectives on Politics 6 (2):321-8; Hannagan, Rebecca J., and Peter K. Hatemi. 2008. “The Threat of Genes: A Comment on Evan Charney's 'Genes and Ideologies.'”
  10. Fowler, James H. and Christopher T. Dawes. (2008). "Two Genes Predict Voter Turnout." Journal of Politics 70 (3): 579–594.
  11. Thayer, Bradley A. 2004. Darwin and International Relations : On the Evolutionary Origins of War and Ethnic Conflict. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky; Rosen, Stephen Peter. 2005. War and Human Nature. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press; Gat, Azar. 2006. War in Human Civilization. New York: Oxford University Press; Lopez, Anthony C. 2010. Evolution, Coalitional Psychology, and War. H-Diplo ISSF Roundtable on "Biology and Security"
  12. Bell, D. 2006. "Beware of false prophets: biology, human nature and the future of international relations theory." International Affairs 82(3)
  13. Fowler, J. H., and D. Schreiber. 2008. "Biology, Politics, and the Emerging Science of Human Nature." Science 322 (5903):912-4; Political Psychology, Special Issue on “Neurobiological Approaches to Political Behavior” (Forthcoming).

Further reading

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