Explanation of David Easton's System Theory | Political System | System Analysis | Input Output Model | 2019

David Easton's System Theory is one of the most significant theory in comparative politics. A system is characterized as set of inter-related units, which interact or cooperate with one another consistently. The overall inter actions within the units of the system, enable the system to work and an equilibrium is accomplished. .

David Easton is the first political thinker to utilize the system theory to comprehend the political process. He has explained system theory in his book ‘A Framework for political analyses’.

Easton defines political system as ‘a set of interaction as abstracted from the totality of the social behavior, through which values are authoritatively allocated for society.




According to David Easton any political system has two components


David Easton's System Theory |  Political System | System Analysis | Input Output Model


  1. Input
  2. Output

The input comprise of demand and support. Demand alludes to a set of claims, desire, needs and wants made by the citizens or a particular group before the government. The demand can take the form of appeals, agitations, elections etc.


Like demands there is also a support mechanism which is very essential for the system to sustain. Supports allude to political obedience or values or ideologies or belief system that people have towards the system. The support mechanism gives authenticity to the system. It can be symbolic like waving the flag or singing National Anthem or substantial like participating in political meeting or casting vote regularly.

Easton argues, outside of a political system there exist another systems that creates the environment of the political system.

 This environment can be classified into two parts

  1. intra societal and
  2. extra societal.


The intra societal system incorporates economy or financial system, culture, social structure etc. These components are the part of the society of which the political system is itself a part. They shape or influence the conditions under which a political system itself must perform different functions.



The extra societal system incorporates all the systems, which exist outside a given society. They are the part of rising International society which may be regarded as Supra society.The International political framework and worldwide monetary frameworks would be in the classification of extra cultural framework, which additionally shape political arrangement of a society.


According to David Easton political system is isolated from other system by means of boundaries. But this boundaries are difficult to distinguished because political system interacts with other system through means of exchange on a continuous basis.


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David Easton argues a political system starts working when it receives inputs from the environment. When input is received by the political system it begins processing the inputs. The process of processing the inputs is known as conversion process. This process turns the input into output in the form of rules which can be enforced and policies to be implemented. The output influences the environment and can even change or modify the input. One thing is noteworthy here that not all that enters into the political system as input, flows in the output unit. In every political system there are certain instrument or mechanism that choose what valid and invalid demand is. In democratic system political parties assume the job of gatekeeper mechanism. Political parties pick certain demands raised by citizen as valid, authentic and legitimate and reject other irrelevant demands.



One of the integral part of Easton’s model of political system is his concept of feedback. This is fundamentally a Communications procedure. It is a process through which information about the performance of the political system is conveyed back to it, which influence the subsequent functions and behavior of the system.





Merits of David Easton's system theory:


  1. First, it provides a framework for logical and scientific analysis of political procedure.
  2. David Easton's system theory is dynamic and can clarify the change that that spot in governmental issues.
  3. David Easton's system theory has normative dimensions
  4. David Easton's system theory is unified that can be utilized in the study study both national and worldwide governmental issues.



Criticism of David Easton's System Theory:


  1. System theory suffers from several inadequacies and shortcomings-
  2. It has been scrutinized for being excessively theoretical. It said to be too far from observational reality.
  3. It can't clarify certain exceptional political occasion like revolution or ethnic clash.
  4. It does not provides a clear idea about how conversions or feedback mechanism performs its functions.
  5. It is said that Easton system model support stability or status quo of the system. It is status quoits and rigid in nature, which may not accommodate itself with change in society.
  6. The third world countries energetically look for change in all aspect of economic, social and cultural life but David Easton's system theory can't grasp to the pace, scale and nature of progress in them.

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