Defining the Term Politics
It is important for those involved with political education
to be clear about which understanding of the terms politics and education they are using
as the basis of their work. This page sets out to deal with our understanding of
the term politics; another
page, education, has been designed to address how
we understand political education.
|There is no uniform understanding of the term politics...
As far as political science is
concerned, there is no generally accepted definition of the term
politics. In truth, this is not a bad thing. After all, the very nature of social
sciences and humanities means that there can never be a single
or, indeed, "right" answer to a problem. To this end, the rather fruitless
search for a definition of the word politics has been wisely abandoned. Whether or not power,
conflict, control, peace or something else forms the core of the term politics
depends much more on the issue, the interests involved and much more
|Our definition of the term
Our work is based on the system theory with its
multi-dimensional understanding of politics. While this approach is
widespread, it by no means the most important or best method. The advantage of this approach is that it integrates the wide
variety of political aspects and elements, while making it possible to structure the complex nature of political reality and systematize it by always thinking of politics in a
multi-dimensional way [... more on the system theory].
|Politics in three dimensions...
A distinction is
drawn between the three following political dimensions: Polity, politics and
policy. Polity is taken to mean the formal dimension of politics, that
is, the the structure of norms, the way in which procedures are regulated and the institutions in which politics takes
place. Politics means the procedural dimension, or rather the decision-making
processes, the settling of conflicts and the enforcing of goals and
interests. This dimension encompasses several of the classic issues associated with political science
(who is able to enforce their interests?; what mechanisms are in place for regulating
conflict?; etc.). And finally policy is the substance-based dimension of politics and refers to solving problems and fulfilling tasks by the administrative system
drawing on decisions that are binding for all (authoritative value
assignments) [... more on the political dimensions].
|Politics and the time dimension...
This definition of politics has proven to be very useful, especially for political education purposes. Together with the other elements associated with the analysis of policy, especially the policy cycle, it provides teachers and pupils with a tool that they can use to understand political reality [... more on the policy cycle].
More detailed texts on the term politics:
[Authors: Ragnar Müller and Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Schumann]
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