Politics is the study of societal arrangements that affect the generation of power, material resources, and political status. Politics is commonly thought of as a branch of public policy with a particular focus on how individuals and groups to govern themselves. Politics is often thought of as a separate field from economics, though they are indeed closely related. Politics is the structured process by which groups organize their relationships to one another to make sure that they benefit from the association. This also includes deliberation and conflict resolution, as well as other elements such as immigration, technology, and war.
Politics is also the collection of activities that are related to making decisions within groups, such as the allocation of scarce status or resources. The field of political science actually refers to a much larger field of study than just politics, since it also includes the study of civil society, government, and economy. Within this broad area there are five main branches of research that have been used over time to understand politics. They are political science, political philosophy, public policy, social science, and psychology. All of these are required for students to pursue a career in politics.
The study of politics requires an understanding of why people form political institutions, how they make decisions, and how these choices impact the external environment. Politics also requires an appreciation of how diverse interests group together in organizations, create legal systems, and make political decisions. Studying politics also requires a basic knowledge of the various forms of communication used in politics. All of these require an overall view of how politics as a system of associations and institutions came into being.
The field of political science began as early as the fourteenth century BC with the rise of democracy in ancient Athens. Plato argued that all political systems were based on self interests stemming from competition and military action. Later philosophers like Aristotle developed individualistic philosophies that view politics as a process of understanding who we are and then trying to maximize our potential. In the eighteenth century France led the way in developing sophisticated political systems based on property, religion, national pride, and ethnicity. In the nineteenth century Germany and England undertook massive and sweeping political projects that reshaped world government. These efforts formed the basis for the present international system of government.
Modern political systems throughout the world have been built on a variety of foundations and assumptions. Some political theories assume that political parties compete to promote their own agendas and gain support from a diverse range of citizens. Underlying this theory is the assumption that a narrow ruling class has interests that will be best served through a system of government. Another popular theory is that all political parties have some sort of social welfare or social concern that is served through some type of politics. Still another popular theory is that all political parties are involved in some form of internal struggles over how power should be shared.
The narrowing of political activity down to these narrower definitions has had significant consequences for politics. First, there are much less debate and argument within most parties. Because the issues and arguments are reduced to a matter of personal convenience, there are more conciliations and compromises. Second, the parties have less room for productive compromise because they cannot agree on all issues. Third, because of the narrowing of issues and arguments, politics becomes a zero sum game, with each party trying to win rather than working to achieve an overall goal.
As political scientists, however, we believe that politics is a dynamic process and that there is life out of politics. In fact, politics is one of the few sciences that has made a continued commitment to the study of politics. In addition to this commitment, political scientists also have an interest in understanding the processes by which individuals and institutions have come together to find political solutions to political problems. This includes an interest in understanding how politics affects organizations at the organizational level. One of the most important areas of inquiry in this area focuses on understanding how politics shapes and influences the processes of decision-making.
In order to understand the importance of politics in promoting economic growth and social welfare, political scientists must be willing to engage in public activity and provide valuable information to the public. Without this public engagement, political scientists may not be able to advance their research agenda or present findings in a meaningful way. Public engagement in the scientific community is particularly important in the field of economics. Without the correct answer to economic questions, public spending and economic policies will fail. Political scientists should not make quiet sacrifices in the name of public understanding.