Politics/Addendum

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This addendum is a continuation of the article Politics.


A great deal of discussion in many locations, including the Talk pages of this article, has been addressed to the question of the precise meaning of the term politics - a term that has no single precise meaning. On this Addendum, a variety of dictionary definitions are brought together for those who wish to explore the various nuances of its meaning.

The 4th edition of the American Heritage Dictionary defines politics as "The art or science of government or governing, especially the governing of a political entity, such as a nation, and the administration and control of its internal and external affairs." Other definitions in that same source include "The activities or affairs engaged in by a government, politician, or political party" and "The methods and tactics involved in managing a state or government." In a similar vein, the New Oxford American Dictionary, defines politics as "the activities associated with the governance of a country or other area, esp. the debate or conflict among individuals or parties having or hoping to achieve power: the president's relationship with Congress is vital to American politics." The New Oxford lists as a second definition, "the activities of governments concerning the political relations between countries".

However, in two additional definitions that American Heritage Dictionary shifts the ground completely away from governing and moves the emphasis onto manipulation, power, mastery and attitudes with this: "Intrigue or maneuvering within a political unit or group in order to gain control or power". Examples of such usages sited include partisanship and office politics. Political attitudes and positions are said to include such statements as: "His politics on that issue is his own business." and "Your politics are clearly more liberal than mine."

Finally, the American Heritage Dictionary points to politics referring to "internally conflicting interrelationships among people in a society." This may involve such instances as the politics of Jews and Palestinians, disagreements between American nuns and the Vatican, the racial politics involved in the relations of "black" people and "white" people, gendered politics of men and women or the many possible permutations and identities to be negotiated in gay, lesbian, bi-sexual, trans-gendered and similar individual and group identities.

Many sources also see politics as an academic study of government and the state, as in the case of a lecturer in politics, or a professor of politics.

The New Oxford Dictionary also notes an important organisational meaning of politics: "activities within an organization that are aimed at improving someone's status or position and are typically considered to be devious or divisive: yet another discussion of office politics and personalities."

The New Oxford reminds us also that politics can also refer to a particular set of political beliefs or principles, as in the statement people watch Fox News or MSNBC purely for their politics.

Finally, the term politics may refer to the assumptions or principles relating to or inherent in a sphere, theory, or thing, esp. when concerned with power and status in a society: the politics of gender.