Politics is the study of the political arrangements in society, which involves the exercise of authority to make political decisions by members of a community, state, or nation. Politics can be thought of as the interaction of societal groups on an institutional level. Politics is often used as a generic term to refer to a number of related disciplines, including government, social science, public policy, and diplomacy. Politics is the collective application of abstract principles concerning the political order of a society. The branches of social science that study politics and political government are known as social sciences.
Social scientists analyze how groups and individuals relate to one another, what drives this interaction, why it occurs, what causes it to change, and how it can be changed. The most important field in politics is political theory. This is closely related to the field of sociology, which studies the social patterns of a society. Both of these fields use many of the same methods and have produced similar results, but there are significant differences between these two fields.
In the United States, politics is not primarily about elected officeholders exercising authority over others through voting. Rather, politics is essentially about the way power is distributed within a polity. This process occurs not via elected officeholders exercising power through voting, but rather through the selection of government officials based on their qualifications, party affiliation, or even gender. Politicians may be elected through the election process, but this process is generally considered meaningless because the powers that be remain in power regardless of who is elected. Power is thus theoretically at the “people’s hands,” and is not subject to the will of any individual or political party.
Politics has a lengthy history in the United States. However, the etymology of the word indicates that it originated in the British colony of Massachusetts in 1640. In that year, Bostonians refused to hand over power to an individual who was not a resident of the city, and so established the first free municipal government in the world. The resulting separation of political powers at the national level of government from the local government at the town level is considered to be one of the most important developments in the history of the English language.
In modern terms, the term “Politics” typically refers to the systematic interaction of people within a polity or political terrain. Politics can be considered to be the method by which individuals and groups assert their right to a high degree of political influence over the course of societal change and societal structure. Those who benefit from this form of influence typically wield tremendous power over the life and liberty of those less fortunate. Conversely, those who suffer from a lack of influence – due to being left out of the process or for some other reason – find themselves at the lowest rungs of the socio-economic ladder. The concept of politics has come to represent a set of values and principles that have grown over the centuries worth preserving and upholding for the sake of a future without violence and hate.
Politics is a way of understanding the world that exists around you and trying to create the correct answer. Those who are interested in politics will generally consider it to be the pursuit of self-interest guided by the need to survive. The quest for the correct answer to all questions is often considered to be absurd by those who are committed to the pursuit of power and wealth. Those who are genuinely concerned about politics and the correct answer to all questions consider the actions of those who are in politics to be absurd and harmful. This line of thinking represents an unfortunate distortion of how we view politics. To understand politics as anything other than a pursuit of self-interest is to discount its importance and eliminate any possibility of understanding it.
As political scientists attempt to describe politics in more accurate terms, the need to understand politics as a system of inter-related social action arises. Interpretation-dependent thinking leads to conflict and war. War and political conflict are then thought to arise from a distorted attempt at understanding reality and the meaning of political concepts. Political scientists who have explored alternative approaches to political interpretation have discovered that political conflicts arise from conflicting interpretations of reality and social concepts, rather than from actual confrontations between actual parties. Political scientists who prefer to use interpretive theories in explaining political conflict may see political actions as a struggle over the meaning of political concepts, rather than as a clash of interests.
Interpretation-dependent thinking leads to political conflict. Political scientists who prefer to use politically motivated explanations may see political actions as a struggle over the meaning of political concepts, rather than as a clash of interests. When scientists attempt to describe political conflict using narrow definitions, they may also ignore distinctions among different concepts and use one concept to explain both. For instance, some political scientists believe that there is only power politics, when in fact there are also economic power politics, political corruption, and other such concepts. Because scientists tend to use narrow definitions, political conflict is therefore not always clearly visible to the people involved. In these cases, the existence of subtle shades of meaning that might go unnoticed in everyday life, as well as different understandings of concepts and reality, make it possible for the political scientist to behave as if political conflict was not really there.