Politics refers to a set of activities associated with the governance of a country, or an area. It involves making decisions that apply to members of a group.[1]

It refers to achieving and exercising positions of governance—organized control over a human community, particularly a state.[2] The academic study focusing on just politics, which is therefore more targeted than general political science, is sometimes referred to as politology (not to be confused with politicology, a synonym for political science).

In modern nation-states, people have formed political parties to represent their ideas. They agree to take the same position on many issues and agree to support the same changes to law and the same leaders.[3]

An election is usually a competition between different parties.[4] Some examples of political parties worldwide are: the African National Congress (ANC) in South Africa, the Democratic Party (D) in the United States, the Conservative Party in the United Kingdom, the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) in Germany and the Indian National Congress in India.

Politics is a multifaceted word. It has a set of fairly specific meanings that are descriptive and nonjudgmental (such as "the art or science of government" and "political principles"), but does often colloquially carry a negative connotation.[1][5][6] The word has been used negatively for many years: the British national anthem as published in 1745 calls on God to "Confound their politics",[7] and the phrase "play politics", for example, has been in use since at least 1853, when abolitionist Wendell Phillips declared: "We do not play politics; anti-slavery is no half-jest with us."[8]

A variety of methods are deployed in politics, which include promoting one's own political views among people, negotiation with other political subjects, making laws, and exercising force, including warfare against adversaries.[9][10][11][12][13] Politics is exercised on a wide range of social levels, from clans and tribes of traditional societies, through modern local governments, companies and institutions up to sovereign states, to the international level.

A political system is a framework which defines acceptable political methods within a given society. The history of political thought can be traced back to early antiquity, with seminal works such as Plato's Republic, Aristotle's Politics and the works of Confucius.


Women voter outreach from 1935.

The word comes from the same Greek word from which the title of Aristotle's book Politics (from Ancient Greek: Πολιτικά, romanizedPolitiká or Polis, meaning "affairs of the cities"). The book title was rendered in Early Modern English in the mid-15th century as "Polettiques";[14] it became "politics" in Modern English. The singular politic first attested in English 1430 and comes from Middle French politique, in turn from Latin politicus,[15] which is the Latinization of the Greek πολιτικός (politikos), meaning amongst others "of, for, or relating to citizens", "civil", "civic", "belonging to the state",[16] in turn from πολίτης (polites), "citizen"[16] and that from πόλις (polis), "city".[16]


Formal politics refers to the operation of a constitutional system of government and publicly defined institutions and procedures.[17] Political parties, public policy or discussions about war and foreign affairs would fall under the category of Formal Politics.[17] Many people view formal politics as something outside of themselves, but that can still affect their daily lives.[17]

Semi-formal politics is politics in government associations such as neighborhood associations, or student governments where student government political party politics is often important.

Informal politics is understood as forming alliances, exercising power and protecting and advancing particular ideas or goals. Generally, this includes anything affecting one's daily life, such as the way an office or household is managed, or how one person or group exercises influence over another.[17] Informal Politics is typically understood as everyday politics, hence the idea that "politics is everywhere".[17]