Systems analysis is the actual application of different variants of systems theory to the inquiry into sociopolitical reality. Systems theory itself is based on the analogy of social phenomena and biological organisms, and it was one of three main approaches in the 1950s to the study of politics, besides behavioral and political culture studies. Systems analysis inquires into the structures and functions of systems. Analyses based on general systems theory emphasize the organizational structures of different systems, while those rooted in cybernetic systems theories focus on regulation and feedback processes based on communication. Systems analyses following the theory of political systems, such as The Political System by the academic David Easton, address the question through which processes of organization, differentiation, communication, and regulation a political system is able to transform societal demands arising on the input side into outputs that themselves can generate support and therefore can guarantee the survival of the political system. Politics is conceived of as “the authoritative allocation of social values,” seen as the primary function of the political system. From the late 1960s, systems theory was increasingly criticized for its apparent focus on supraindividual rather than individual-level phenomena and for its preference for persistence of patterns over change.
- Easton, David. The Political System: An Inquiry into the State of Political Science. New York: Knopf, 1953.
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