What is politics?

The term politics means using power to make decisions for a community. When one person has the power to affect the other person’s attitude and behavior, this power is known as politics. If we narrow down the definition of politics according to the general use, politics is basically getting a position in government and getting involved in the decision-making process.

It can also be defined as the organized control of a community by one or more than one person. In terms of studies, the study of the distribution of power among people is also known as politics. The relationship between human communities and the distribution of wealth among these communities can also be studied under politics.

In this era, when someone is involved in the government process, we generally say that they are involved in politics. But, politics is not only confined to the government. If we take it in an organizational context, the distribution of resources among different departments of an organization and the power that will be used to make decisions for that organization is also known as politics.

Politics is exercised at different social levels. Whether it is an organization, a traditional tribe, or a modern government; you will see politics everywhere.

The word politics is basically derived from the Greek language. Aristotle first used this term in his book. Though according to the early modern English language, the term that Aristotle originally used was “Polettiques” but later, this term was transformed into the word “Politics” by modern English.

We all are involved in politics at some point in our lives. By politics, I do not mean involvement in the direct governmental process. But, I mean the way how we use power in our lives. We all make different decisions in our lives based on the power we have. And this also comes under the broad category of politics. But, in this article, I will emphasize more on the state politics.

Classifications of politics

Politics can be classified into three different categories. These categories are informal politics, semi-formal politics and formal politics.

Informal Politics

As its name indicates, this type of politics is generally informal in nature. Informal politics is the politics involved in our daily lives. The way we make our day to day decisions based on our power is informal politics. The way we make groupings and make decisions in our social circle also comes under informal politics.

Suppose if you are making an alliance with someone to achieve some sort of a goal, you will be involved in informal politics in this case. In short, anything related to politics in your daily life is informal politics.

Semi-formal politics

Semi-formal politics come between the formal and informal politics. It is an important form of politics but it is not directly related to or involved in your daily life. An example of semi-formal politics will be the involvement of someone in politics of a student organization.

If you are making decisions based on your power in a neighborhood organization, then this will also be considered as semi-formal politics. It will not be as formal as being directly involved in the governmental process, but it will not be personal as well.

Formal Politics

Formal politics is the most important type of politics in a modern world. It is basically the operation of governmental institutions. The politics that are involved in the process of running a country are known as formal politics.

Though, some people might think that formal politics is not important for them. But, this is not the fact. Formal politics has a deep impact on almost everyone’s life. Therefore, it is very important to understand what is politics, and especially formal politics.

History of Formal Politics

Formal politics is the politics that is reflected in the government institutions. We can also use the word state politics because formal politics is directly related to the development, formation, and economy of a state.

State politics is a very old concept. People were involved in politics even thousands of years ago. There were kingdoms and states and they were ruled by kings and queens. These kinds and queens were head of the state and they were responsible to make decisions on behalf of their kingdoms or states.

What does a state do?

A state is a political institution that is governed by a proper government according to state rules and regulations. The territory of a state is clearly defined. The state is responsible for public good. It runs on the taxes paid by its people and in return of these taxes, the state carries on different projects of social welfare for its citizens.

The state is also responsible for providing protection to its citizens and by solving their problems. The state is responsible for maintaining the law and order situation and work in the interest of its people.

Political Organization and its Forms

There are many different forms of political organization. For example, the state is a political organization. Other examples of political organizations are non-government organizations that work for the welfare of people but that are not related to the government. Another example is the United Nations. It is an international political organization that works for the welfare of the world’s population.

The most common and dominant political organization is the state. The state is basically a political organization and government is the power in that political organization. There are six classifications of a state according to Aristotle. These classifications are monarchies, tyrannies, oligarchies, timocracies, aristocracies, and democracies.

Initially, when Aristotle presented these classifications, they were very important. But, later, as the time passed, the importance of these classifications decreased and they are no more followed.

The truth is that no form of the government, state or any other political organization is perfect. All of these classifications and organizations are man-made and therefore, they are vulnerable. History has shown that there is no such form that would be successful in all types of environments and systems. Though, some forms are considered better than others but still, not even a single political organization is free from errors.

The sovereign state is at the highest point of political organizations and all other varieties of different states are formed by using the concept of a sovereign state. Sovereignty is the basis of all powers that exist in the modern system of government. You might be thinking that what is the actual meaning of sovereignty?

Let me explain this concept. Sovereignty is the power that does not have any influence from the outer environment. It is basically the full right of a governing body to exercise power and to govern itself. Sovereignty is also sometimes used as a synonym of complete and supreme authority over something. In an autocratic government, an individual has the sovereign power over a state or a community. Whereas, in a constitutional government, a group of people who govern the state has the sovereign power.

In an autocratic government, a single person is responsible for making or approving all the decisions for the people of that country or state. On the other hand, in a constitutional government, a constitution defines the authority and power of people who are in the group of governing body. A constitution is a piece of paper that defines the role of people, their responsibilities and their power in the government.

In easy words, Constitution is the law of a country and this law distributes the power in a group of people who are responsible for running a country. There is also another type of the Constitution and it is the unwritten constitution. An unwritten constitution is continuously being developed and written by the legislative body of the government. As this type of constitution is not available in the form of documents, so, in this case, the type of government is decided as per the situation of the state.

Different forms of government

Now that you know what is a state and what are different forms of a state, let’s learn about different forms of a government. As I have mentioned earlier in this article, a state is the type of a political organization but on the other hand, politics is the government and power that exists in this type of political organization i.e. a state.

There are many different forms of government and these different forms are present in different countries of the world. Just like there is no perfect form of a political organization, similarly, there is no perfect form of a government that is suitable for all types of states.

Some of the common forms of government include central government, local government, and the federal government. The Central government is present in countries such as China and France. Local government is present in countries such as ancient England. And the federal government is present in countries such as United States of America, Canada, Australia, and Germany.

It must be noted that initial forms of government that were present in ancient societies were central government and local government. Then, these two forms of government combined and a new form of government was formed that is called the federal government. It is relatively a modern type of government.

In the federal government, there is a written constitution and the power is equally distributed among different states and the federal government of a country.

Global Politics and the role of United Nations

The world has become a global village with the help of technology. We are connected with each other by using the internet and there is no doubt in this truth that a political change in one part of the world has a direct or indirect impact on other countries as well. The economy of the whole world is interconnected and interdependent on each other. Global politics is basically the practice of politics that involves all the countries.

After the world war I and world war II, the humanity was going through tough times. People realized that there is a need for global politics so that the issues of this world can be solved unanimously. The development of hydrogen bomb and a nuclear bomb was a great threat to humanity. Therefore, it was very important that all the nations sit together and solve their conflicts so that we can avoid the world war III.

The rise of global organizations also played a major role in the development of global politics. When the world was going through dark times, the United Nations served as a ray of hope for people who wanted peace. The United Nations was a forum that was created to solve the conflicts of the world so that we can live in peace.

Corruption in politics

Power brings responsibility with it. But, not all people take this responsibility in a positive manner. There are many people who become corrupt after becoming powerful through politics. The term political corruption means the use of government or political power for illegal purposes or for personal gain. People who prefer their individual interest over their national interest in politics are corrupt.

It must be noted that illegal acts of private people who are not directly involved in the government are not considered as the corruption because they are not using the power that is given to them by their country.

Forms of Corruption

There are many forms of corruption that are done by the people who have political power. Some of the most common forms are nepotism, graft, corruption, extortion, patronage etc. Due to corruption, many illegal activities are also increased. The activities include drug trafficking, trafficking, money laundering etc.

Corruption is a major evil that is present in our societies these days. People who come in power become hungry for wealth and more power and due to this, they get involved in the corruption. It is important that useful steps should be taken to eradicate this evil from our society.


In this article, I tried to answer the question that “What is politics?” I hope I clarified this topic for you and now you would be able to answer this question in a more detailed way. Knowledge of politics is very important because whether you like it or not, it still influences your life.