Politics (meaning “affairs of the cities” in Greek) is the process of making decisions that apply to members of a group. It refers to achieving and exercising positions of governance and is the study or practice of the distribution of power and resources within a given community. The idea of politics dates back to the Hellenistic period and has undergone many different interpretations over the ensuing centuries.
Perhaps the earliest contributor to political theory was Aristotle (384-322 BCE), a Greek philosopher, logician, and scientist. Along with Plato, Aristotle is generally regarded as one of the founders of both Western philosophy and political science. Aristotle was born on the border between Greece and Albania to a family with close connections to the King of Macedon. As a young man, Aristotle studied in Plato’s Academy in Athens. After Plato’s death, he left Athens to conduct philosophical research and was eventually invited by King Philip II of Macedon to tutor his young son, Alexander the Great. Soon after Alexander succeeded his father, consolidated the conquest of the Greek city-states, and launched the invasion of the Persian Empire, Aristotle returned as a resident alien to Athens. During his time in Athens, he wrote, many different works including Politics and Nicomachean Ethics.
In both Politics and Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle described politics essentially as the study of values and ethics, what is right and wrong, and the study of what should be and what could be. He argued that any communication between two people revolves around those subjects and is thus political in nature. Additionally, Aristotle felt that politics is the master science because mankind is an innately political animal that engaged in politics through all of their actions, however unimportant or insignificant they may seem.
The 16th Century Italian philosopher Niccolò Machiavelli (widely considered to be the founder of modern political theory) put forward an entirely different interpretation of the nature of political power. Born in the Italian city-state of Florence in 1469, Machiavelli witnesses the French Invasion of Italy in 1494 and the decline of the Medici family’s political power. Machiavelli became secretary of the Ten of War (the body that governed the military of Florence at the time) a post he held until 1512. In that capacity, he was employed in a great variety of missions and his dispatches during these journeys, and his treatises on the Affairs of France and Germany helped to shape his views on government. In 1519, Machiavelli was commissioned by Leo X to draw up his report on a reform of the state of Florence. In 1521-25 he was employed in diplomatic services and as historiographer. After the defeat of the French at Pavia (1525), Italy was helpless before the advancing forces of the Emperor Charles V and Machiavelli strove to avert from Florence the invading army on its way to Rome. In May 1527 the Florentines again drove out the Medici and proclaimed the republic, but Machiavelli, bitterly disappointed that he was to be allowed no part in the movement for liberty, died at the age of 58.
The political theory of Macchiaveli is put forward in the book The Prince, which was published posthumously in 1532. Throughout The Prince, Machiavelli argued that politics is nothing more complicated than the study of power and that all means may be resorted to by political leaders to strengthen the political establishment and preserve authority. Without such authority and established order, Machiavelli argued that society would be weakened and that political peace and stability could never be established and maintained. Additionally, Macchiaveli noted that throughout history, organized religion and religious leaders such as the Pope tended to get in the way of political peace and stability and hindered the development of strong and stable societies. In order to address this predicament, Macchiaveli felt that there needed to be a separation of church and state and that secularism needed to be promoted by governments throughout the world.
Harold Lasswell (1902-1978) was a leading American political scientist and communications theorist. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Chicago in 1926 and studied at the Universities of London, Geneva, Paris, and Berlin during the 1920s. Lasswell taught political science at the University of Chicago for 16 years (1922-1938) and was director of war communications research for Library of Congress from 1939-1945. After World War II, he went to Yale University, where he served until the 1970s in various capacities such as professor of law, professor of political science, and Ford Foundation Professor of Law and Social Sciences. He was also a professor of law at John Jay College of the City University of New York and at Temple University and was president of the American Political Science Association (APSA), the American Society of International Law, and the World Academy of Art and Science (WAAS). Lasswell is described as a “one-man university” whose “competence in, and contributions to, anthropology, communications, economics, law, philosophy, psychology, psychiatry, and sociology are enough to make him a political scientist in the model of classical Greece.”
Harold Lasswell viewed political science as the study of changes in the distribution of value patterns in society, and, because distribution depends on power, the focal point of his analysis was power dynamics. He defined values as desired goals and power as the ability to participate in decisions, and he conceived political power as the ability to produce intended effects on other people. In his 1936 book Politics: Who Gets What, When, and How, Lasswell viewed the power elite as the primary holders of power and nearly all political systems and that their opinions and actions influenced nearly all forms of public policy implemented at all levels of government.
Jeff Stonecash (1946-Present) is the Emeritus Maxwell Professor of Political Science at Syracuse University and one of the foremost experts on the American political system.Some of the topics that Stonecash has written about over the past four decades include the history of American political parties, the realignment of their electoral bases, the causes of political polarization, and the impact of changing alignments on the nature of policy debates. Stonecash argued that politics is simply the study of opportunities, individual responsibilities, beliefs and the role of government at all levels in making such things possible.
Is Politics a Science?
One of the main debates amongst scholars is whether or not political science can be considered an actual form of science much like biology, chemistry, or physics. Some argue that political science is not an actual form of science because it deals with concepts that are not tangible and relies on theoretical assumptions that are oftentimes difficult to measure and record. Despite this view, the case can be made that Political science is indeed a form of science because every new political theory involves testing, measuring, and repetition (key components of the scientific method) in order to test its validity.
Political Scientist Vs. Politicians
Politicians tend to seek quick answers in order to appeal to their votes prior to the next election, while political scientists tend to put forward measured and well-thought-out answers to policy questions. Additionally, Politicians usually hold firm in their views in order to appeal to their voter base and keep in tune with their ideologies. Political scientists, on the other hand, reach tentative conclusions once they gain an understanding of the facts behind a political issue. Politicians also seek out ways to expand their popularity and improve their chances of getting re-elected, while political scientists seek accuracy and measured responses in their works.
Matt studies and analyzes politics at all levels. He is the creator of OurPolitics.net, a scholarly resource exploring political trends, political theory, political economy, philosophy, and more. He hopes that his articles can encourage more people to gain knowledge about politics and understand the impact that public policy decisions have on their lives. Matt is also involved in the preservation of recorded sound through IASA International Bibliography of Discographies, and is an avid record collector.
What is a politics answer? ›
Politics (from Greek: Πολιτικά, politiká, 'affairs of the cities') is the set of activities that are associated with making decisions in groups, or other forms of power relations among individuals, such as the distribution of resources or status.What is the political party very short answer? ›
A political party is an organization that coordinates candidates to compete in a particular country's elections. It is common for the members of a party to hold similar ideas about politics, and parties may promote specific ideological or policy goals.What is the politics of America? ›
The United States is a constitutional federal republic, in which the president (the head of state and head of government), Congress, and judiciary share powers reserved to the national government, and the federal government shares sovereignty with the state governments.Why people do not participate in politics? ›
Barriers to political participation
Education – without information and knowledge, meaningful participation in politics can be difficult. Social isolation – there is a limited network to support and encourage political participation. Personal factors – people may have limited confidence or motivation to participate.
'Discuss' question words typically require an in-depth answer that takes into account all aspects of the debate concerning a research topic or argument. You must demonstrate reasoning skills with this type of question, by using evidence to make a case for or against a research topic/argument.What are the 5 types of politics? ›
The major types of political systems are democracies, monarchies, oligarchies, and authoritarian and totalitarian regimes.What is political power? ›
The political power definition in government is the ability of an individual or a group of people to influence the thoughts, actions, and mindset of people in a nation. This power can be legitimate power given to an entity by the people of a nation that holds authority over society.What are three main purposes of the political parties? ›
A political party is made up of individuals who organize to win elections, operate government, and influence public policy.What will happen if there is no political party? ›
If there are no political parties and every elected representative is independent, then no one will promise major policy changes. Every independent representative will work according to their own wishes and it will create anarchy in the country.Why should we politics? ›
Politics Helps You to Know Your Rights
It has truly educated us on a fundamental part of our society and has helped us to understand that if we engage in political processes, using the pressure points built into the system, then every individual really does have the opportunity to change the world.
What are the 4 types of political? ›
The major types of political systems are democracies, monarchies, and authoritarian and totalitarian regimes.How many politics are there? ›
As per latest publication dated 23 September 2021 from Election Commission of India, the total number of parties registered was 2858, with 8 national parties, 54 state parties and 2796 unrecognised parties.What do you call someone who doesn't like politics? ›
Apoliticism is apathy or antipathy towards all political affiliations. A person may be described as apolitical if they are uninterested or uninvolved in politics. Being apolitical can also refer to situations in which people take an unbiased position in regard to political matters.What is it called when you dont believe in political parties? ›
Nonpartisanism is a lack of affiliation with, and a lack of bias towards, a political party.What is the negative effect of politics? ›
Results: Large numbers of Americans reported politics takes a significant toll on a range of health markers-everything from stress, loss of sleep, or suicidal thoughts to an inability to stop thinking about politics and making intemperate social media posts.How do you answer an explain question? ›
- make a point.
- give a reason why (often given as 'because')
- state the consequence (positive or negative) for the business.
Start with Who, What, When, Where, How, Why (and Can) If you've noticed, telephone support agents often repeat a question as you ask it. They do so to make sure that they've got it right. The logic is simple: if you understand the question, you give the correct answer.What is the best way to deal with politics? ›
- Understand formal and informal networks. ...
- Build positive work relationships. ...
- Keep it professional. ...
- Develop your soft skills. ...
- Speak up for yourself. ...
- Maintain a positive outlook.
While many different political structures have existed throughout history, three major forms exist in modern nation‐states: totalitarianism, authoritarianism, and democracy.What are the 4 major political ideas? ›
- 3.1 Fascism.
- 3.2 Libertarianism.
- 3.3 Monarchism.
- 3.4 Separatism.
- 3.5 Socialism.
What are the 3 main forms of government? ›
According to Yale professor Juan José Linz there are three main types of political systems today: democracies, totalitarian regimes and, sitting between these two, authoritarian regimes with hybrid regimes.What is politics in simple words? ›
Politics is the way that people living in groups make decisions. Politics is about making agreements between people so that they can live together in groups such as tribes, cities, or countries. In large groups, such as countries, some people may spend a lot of their time making such agreements.Why is politics considered power? ›
Political power comes from the ability of politicians and others (lobbyists, business owners, etc.) to influence members of the public and other members of government to pass the policies they desire.What are the types of power in politics? ›
Researchers identified six sources of power, which include legitimate, reward, coercive, expert, information, and referent.Why do we need political parties in simple words? ›
We need political parties because parties contest elections. Parties play a decisive role in making laws for a country. Parties form and run governments. Political parties play the role of opposition.Which 3 challenges are faced by political parties? ›
Solution: Lack of internal democracy, dynastic succession, and the growing role of money and muscle power is the challenge faced by political parties.What was the original purpose of political parties? ›
The need to win popular support in a republic led to the American invention of voter-based political parties in the 1790s. Americans were especially innovative in devising new campaign techniques that linked public opinion with public policy through the party.What is a election answer? ›
An election is a formal group decision-making process by which a population chooses an individual or multiple individuals to hold public office.Who first used the term politics answer? ›
The English word 'politics' is derived from the Greek word 'polis'. Greek Philosophers like Socrates, Aristotle and Plato studied political science in a systematic manner.Which of the following is a political right answer? ›
Political rights include natural justice (procedural fairness) in law, such as the rights of the accused, including the right to a fair trial; due process; the right to seek redress or a legal remedy; and rights of participation in civil society and politics such as freedom of association, the right to assemble, the ...
What is politics quizlet? ›
Politics. Politics is all about influence; who gets what, when and how. People have self-interests that generally can be solved if government can some way be persuaded to change policies, laws or procedures. Public involvement in these changes is called politics.Why is election important? ›
Elections provide an important opportunity to advance democratization and encourage political liberalization. For an election to be free and fair, certain civil liberties, such as the freedoms of speech, association and assembly, are required.Why do we need elections Short answer? ›
They can choose who will form the government and take major decisions. They can choose the party whose policies will guide the government and law making.What is election paragraph? ›
An election is a way people can choose their candidate or their preferences in a representative democracy or other form of government.Who is the creator of politics? ›
Aristotle is called the father of political science because he elaborated on the topics and thinking of the Ideal State, slavery, revolution, education, citizenship, forms of government, the theory of golden mean, theory of constitution etc.Who created politics? ›
Some have identified Plato (428/427–348/347 bce), whose ideal of a stable republic still yields insights and metaphors, as the first political scientist, though most consider Aristotle (384–322 bce), who introduced empirical observation into the study of politics, to be the discipline's true founder.