What is politics?
- Politics is the activity through which people make, uphold and revise the general rules under which they live.
- General rules are the rules that affect how we interact more widely with other members of society (rules how we behave within a community).
- Politics focuses on public life; issues that affects all members of the community such as law and order, the economy, defence, social welfare etc.
- General rules are needed because of conflict. Politics exists because people disagree. Politics is about conflict and finding ways of resolving conflicts (conflict = competion between opposing forces, based on the existence of different opinions, wants and needs.
- Power = the ability to influence the behaviour of others through rewards or punishment.
- Power is a vital ingredient of politics. It is the factor that determines who gets what, when and how.
- Authority (legitimate power)= the right to exert the power that has been given to them, to influence the behaviour of others.
- What people believe they should follow rather then obeying through fear or intimidation.
- Three types of authority (according to Max Weber):
-Traditional authority: based on history and belief that something has always happened (status quo).
-Charismatic authority: based on personality.
-Legal-rational authority: most common form in politics, based on formal and impersonal rules.