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What is Politics?: The Activity and its Study

What is Politics?: The Activity and its Study

Adrian Leftwich

ISBN: 978-0-745-63055-7 September 2004 Polity 224 Pages


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What is politics? Is it a universal feature of all human societies, past and present? Is it tied to specific institutional arenas? Or is it found in all groups and organizations, large or small, formal or informal?

This new textbook seeks to provide answers to these important questions. Starting with what it means to ‘think politically’, the book goes on to explore a wide range of meanings attributed to the concept of politics from a variety of perspectives and theoretical traditions. It offers succinct and coherent overviews by some of the foremost scholars in the field, and each invites the reader to see the activity of politics in a distinctive way. Topics covered include politics as a form of rule, feminist approaches to politics, Marxism and politics, the politics of human behaviour, environmental politics, politics as collective choice, and Islam and politics.

Written with the new student in mind, this concise introduction to the study and activity of politics is essential reading for all those coming to the discipline for the first time.

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Preface: Adrian Leftwich vii

The Contributors xi

1 Thinking Politically: On the politics of Politics 1
Adrian Leftwich

2 Politics is About Governing 23
B. Guy Peters

3 Politics and the Exercise of Force 41
Peter P. Nicholson

4 Marxism and Politics 53
Alex Callinicos

5 Politics as a Form of Rule: Politics, Citizenship and Democracy 67
Bernard Crick

6 Politics as Collective Choice 86
Albert Weale

7 The Political Approach to Human Behavior: People, Resources and Power 100
Adrian Leftwich

8 Politics Beyond Boundaries: A Feminist Perspective 119
Judith Squires

9 Political Philosophy and Politics 135
Adam Shift

10 Is there an Islamic Conception of Politics? 147
Salwa Ismail

11 Politics as Distorted Global Politics 166
Anthony McGrew

12 Politics as if Nature Mattered 182
Neil Carter

Index 196

‘I know of no other work that gives such a good indication of the various ways in which the study of politics can be approached. This book will be immensely helpful for new students.’ Michael Levin, Goldsmith’s College, University of London

‘This is a superb volume, which should quickly establish itself at the top of politics reading lists at all levels. No student of politics can afford not to read it; its publication is cause for considerable celebration. The chapters themselves are suitably diverse and, at the same time, accessible, eloquent and engaging. They establish supremely well the inherently contested nature of the subject matter of political analysis and can only serve to improve both mutual understanding between contending views of politics and the quality of future academic debate.’ Colin Hay, University of Birmingham