THE PHRASE ‘SOCIOLOGY OF POLITICS’ UNMISTAKABLY INDICATES A sub-field, a subdivision of the overall field of sociology – like sociology of religion, sociology of leisure and the like. By saying sociology of politics we make clear that the framework, the approach or the focus of the inquiry is sociological.
The phrase ‘political sociology’ is, on the other hand, unclear. It may be used as a synonym for ‘sociology of politics’, but it may not. When saying political sociology the focus or the approach of the inquiry generally remains unspecified. Since political phenomena are a concern for many disciplines, this ambiguity turns out to be a serious drawback. This is particularly apparent in Europe, where many scholars share Maurice Duverger's view that ‘in a general way the two labels (political sociology and political science) are synonymous’. This view is very convenient, is particularly successful among European sociologists eager to expand to the detriment of political scientists, and for this very reason goes a long way towards explaining the persistent lag of political science in Europe.