Skip to content
Skip to main content

About this free course

Download this course

Share this free course

What is politics?
What is politics?

Start this free course now. Just create an account and sign in. Enrol and complete the course for a free statement of participation or digital badge if available.

2.1 The many meanings of politics

What, then, is politics? To this deceptively simple question there is actually no simple answer. Throughout the history of the discipline, political theorists and practitioners have offered multiple, at times contradictory, at times overlapping definitions of what politics involves. It is therefore difficult (if not impossible) to provide a single definition of politics that everyone can agree on. The best we can do is to explore some of the more salient definitions of politics, and see how they compare and contrast. This requires that we develop some sort of framework, some way of organising these definitions. In this section, we locate them on a spectrum that stretches between narrow and broad interpretations of politics. We begin on the narrow side of the spectrum, and consider the implications of defining politics as an activity restricted to specific people and places. We then explore broader definitions of politics and consider the implications of expanding the remit of politics to include less obvious activities, people and places.