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Cover Introduction to Politics

1. Introduction: The Nature of Politics and Political Analysis  

Robert Garner

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.