First year · International Relations

IPGIR: Define ‘Politics’

According to Adrian Leftwich, “politics is at the heart of all collective social activity, formal and informal, public and private, in all human groups, institutions and societies”.


In my opinion, this definition is the most appropriate because it is one of the most general ones. It shows that politics is related to everyone, as the social character is in the essence of the human being. Politics can be public, because politicians have to be involved in public affairs, and they represent the whole population when public issues are discussed; but politics is also private, as political issues can happen in the personal circle.


I must say that this expression is not a real definition, in the sense that it shows the different characteristics of the notion of politics. The notions of “government”, “states” and “governance” are not mentioned, and these words are directly connected with politics. That is why the Oxford Dictionary’s definition of politics can complete Leftwich’s. It says that politics is the governance’s activities of a country or a region – and more particularly the debates between the most powerful parties – and the activities concerning the political relations between states. Moreover this definition also mentions a set of political beliefs and principles, especially the ones relating to power and status.


Finally, political science is a combination of political Greek philosophy and the natural sciences of the Enlightenment century. The lenses focus on issues within states, which is the biggest difference between Politics and International Relations, because International Relations is interested in the relations between nation states.  Nevertheless, there are still common themes such as globalization, the European Union, and migration.



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