The structure of Power Leader Political Analysis
SOCIETAL DOMAIN OR FIELD
The domain of Politics is the highest, most inclusive category comprising the various aspects of politics specified below. Such a domain label, like that of e.g. Education, Health, Law, Business, the Arts, etc., plays an important role in the commonsense definition of political actions and discourse. It may also be negatively used in judging illegitimate practices in other domains, e.g., when research is prohibited or problematized because it is no longer in the domain of Science but in the domain of Politics. It is assumed that social actors generally know in which ‘field’ they are currently acting. Such categorizations may even be more general than the domains mentioned above, viz., those of the Private vs. the Public Sphere, or Business vs. Pleasure, or the Personal vs. the Social.
These systems are among the most obvious commonsense categories of the domain of politics: Communism, dictatorship, democracy, fascism, or the social democracy, among others, are generally seen as typically ‘political’, e.g., in the description of countries, nation-states, political parties, politicians or political acts. These systems are usually understood as referring to the organization and distribution of power and the principles of decision making.
At the most general and abstract level, shared cultural values may be declared typical for political systems. Thus, Freedom is not only a political relationship (see below), but also a basic political value organizing more specific political ideologies and attitudes. The same is true for the values of Solidarity, Equality and Tolerance. Ideological groups and categories will especially also define themselves (and their goals) in terms of their most cherished (preferential) values. Thus, for dominated groups, political Freedom, Justice, Equality or Independence may be more prominent values than for instance the social values of Harmony, Submission, or Sympathy.
What political systems are at the level of the social and economic organization of power, political ideologies define the socio-cognitive counterpart of such systems. They are the basic belief systems that underlie and organize the shared social representations of groups and their members. In that respect, communism or democracy may be seen both as a system and as a complex set of basic social representations, involving relevant values and sustaining specific altitudes about properties (like power, equality, etc.) that characterize the system.
The domain of politics is typically analyzed as consisting of a number of political institutions, which, top down, organize the political field, actors and actions, such as the State, Governments, Parliament or Congress (the Legislature), city councils, state agencies, and so on.
Less (legally, constitutionally) official are the large number of political organizations that structure political action, such as political parties, political clubs, NGOs, and so on.
Independently of their organization in political organizations, collections of political actors may form more or less formal, cohesive or permanent groups, such as opponents, dissidents, demonstrators, cliques, coalitions, crowds, and in general socio-political movements.
Besides paid, elected representatives (`politicians’) the class of political actors is commonsensically defined by all those who are `engaged in politics’, by accomplishing political action, including demonstrators, lobbyists and strikers.
The various structural units identified above are connected by multiple relations, some of which are typical for the field of politics: Power, power abuse, hegemony, oppression, tolerance, equality and inequality, among many others, especially define how the State relates to its citizens, or how certain political groups are positioned relative to others. Probably the most pervasive of these political relation terms is that of Freedom.
Passing from the `structural’ analysis of political systems, organizations and relations to a more `dynamic’ conceptualization of the domain of policies, the political process is the overall term that categorizes complex, long-term, sequences of political actions. Governing, legislation, opposition, solidarity, agenda-setting, and policies are among the prototypical aspects of such political processes.
At the meso and micro level of the political domain, we finally deal with concrete acts and interactions that are typical for the political domain, such as sessions and meetings of political institutions, organizations and groups, passing laws, voting, demonstrations, campaigning, revolutions, and so on. It is at this level of everyday interaction that `engaging in politics’ is most directly visible and experienced. Such actions are also defined in terms of their intentions, purposes, goals and functions within the more complex political process. Thus a session of parliament is functional within the process of legislation, and a meeting of a group of dissidents part of the process of opposition or resistance.
Obviously a specific example of political action and interaction, political discourse (and its many genres) may here be singled out as a prominent way of `doing politics’. Indeed, most political actions (such as passing laws, decision making, meeting, campaigning, etc.) are largely discursive. Thus, besides parliamentary debates, bills, laws, government or ministerial regulations, and other institutional forms of text and talk, we find such political discourse genres as propaganda, political advertising, political speeches, media interviews, political talk shows on TV, party programs, ballots, and so on.
In the same way as ideologies are the cognitive counterpart of systems, organizations or groups at the broader, societal and political macro-levels, political actors, actions and discourse are locally guided and interpreted and evaluated by various forms of political cognition, such as shared social knowledge and political altitudes, as well as more specific knowledge (models) of concrete political events. The most pervasive common-sense notion of this category is probably that of `public opinion’.