What is Politics?
● Politics is the process by which groups of people make
● The term is generally applied to behaviour within civil
governments, but politics has been observed in all human
group interactions, including corporate, academic, and
● It consists of social relations involving authority or power,
the regulation of political units, and the methods and
tactics used to formulate and apply social policy.
● Political power is a type of power held by a group in a society which
allows that group to administrate the distribution of public resources,
including labour, and wealth.
● Political powers are not limited to heads of states, however the extent
to which a person or group such as an insurgency, terrorist group, or
multinational corporation possesses such power relates to the
amount of societal influence they can wield, formally or informally.
● Power, then, is often defined as the ability to influence the behavior of
others with or without resistance.
● Authority refers to a claim of legitimacy, the justification and right to exercise power.
● Max Weber identified and distinguished three types of legitimate authority.
– The first type discussed by Weber is Rational-legal authority. It is that form of authority which
depends for its legitimacy on formal rules and established laws of the state, which are usually written
down and are often very complex.
– The second type of authority is Traditional authority, which derives from long-established customs,
habits and social structures.
– The third form of authority is Charismatic authority. Here, the charisma of the individual or the leader
plays an important role. Charismatic authority is that authority which is derived from a gift of grace,
the power of one's personality, or when the leader claims that his authority is derived from a "higher
power" (e.g. God) that is superior to both the validity of traditional and rational-legal authority.
Followers accept this and are willing to follow this higher or inspired authority in the place of the
authority that they have hitherto been following.
In most modern nation-states, the government has authority, which
gives it power.
● Intriguingly, the fact that the government has authority gives it the
right to use power to force citizens to do what the government
In other words, the government has the right, based on its
authority, to force people to behave in certain ways.
● Refusal to follow the dictates of the government can result in the
government using violence to coerce individuals into compliance.
● A political party is a political organization that
seeks to attain and maintain political power
within government, usually by participating in
● Parties often espouse an expressed ideology or
vision bolstered by a written platform with
specific goals, forming a coalition among
Voting Patterns and Inequality
● In any political system where voting is allowed,
some people are more likely to vote than
● Additionally, some people are more likely to
have access to political power than are others.
● It is in teasing out the stratification of political
participation and political power that the
sociological imagination is particularly useful.