This chapter discusses the nature of politics and political analysis. It first defines the nature of politics and explains what constitutes ‘the political’ before asking whether politics is an inevitable feature of all human societies. It then considers the boundary problems inherent in analysing the political and whether politics should be defined in narrow terms, in the context of the state, or whether it is better defined more broadly by encompassing other social institutions. It also addresses the question of whether politics involves consensus among communities, rather than violent conflict and war. The chapter goes on to describe empirical, normative, and semantic forms of political analysis as well as the deductive and inductive methods of the study of politics. Finally, it examines whether politics can be a science.
This introductory chapter examines the nature of politics and the political, and more specifically whether politics is an inevitable feature of all human societies. It begins by addressing questions useful when asking about ‘who gets what, when, how?’; for example, why those taking decisions are able to enforce them. The discussion proceeds by focusing on the boundary problems inherent in an analysis of the nature of the political. One such problem is whether politics is equivalent to consensus and cooperation, so that it does not exist in the event of conflict and war. The chapter then explores different forms of political analysis — the empirical, the normative, and the semantic—as well as deductive and inductive methods of studying politics. Finally, it asks whether politics can ever be a science to rival subjects in the natural sciences.