Politics basic definitions
DepartmentPolitics and Public Administration
Course CodePOL 128
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Politics and Film (POL128/CPOL128) Some Definitions of Things Political
The following is a definition of politics offered by Gart h Stevenson in The Canadian Encyclopedia, 2000
Edition (Toronto: McClelland and Stewart, 2000), page 1858:
“Politics broadly refers to any or all conf licts among human beings over the allocation of power,
wealth or prestige, when interests are pursued by means other than the use of physical violence.
According to a more optimistic view, politics is [sic] an essential means by which collective goals can be
achieved through peaceful co-operation. Narrowly, the term describes activities associated with the
government and state.
The state serves the purpose of managing confli cts and imposing solutions that are binding on all
individuals and groups subject to its authority. To be viable, a state must enjoy unchallenged authority
over a particular ter r itory and population.”
(Please Note: the bold pr int above is the emphasis of the course instructor.)
Politics/political/politician as defined in Webster’s Encyclopaedic and Unabridged Dictionary of the
English Language (New York: Random House, 1996), p. 1497:
political: “exercising or seeking power in the governmental or public affairs of a state, municipality, etc.”
Instructor’ note: as defined above, the seeker does not have to be a politician--could be a representative
of corporate interests or a public relations specialist (or “spin doctor’), hence the term “power elites.”
A further definition of the term “political” from same source: “having a definite policy or system of
government of or pert aining to citizens, for example, ‘political rights.’”
Instructor’s note: Do we know what these rights are?”
Politician: “a seeker or holder of public off i ce, who is more concerned about winning favour or retaining
power than about maintaining principles; a person who seeks to gain power or advancement in an
organization in ways that are generally disapproved.” Instructor’s Note: This is a real shocker-- do
politician’s KNOW that a distinguished dictionar y defines them this way?!
A Definition of (Hegemonic) Ideologies as Presented in Session 1:
A system of ideas and beliefs that are held to be normal and natural by members of a given society in
a given era, while in fa ct t hese “norms” or conventions are not natural but are human constructs used to
establish and maintain social structure and order. (See reference to the perceived need for such social order
as indicated in the f irst definition of “politics” offered above.)
Hegemonic Ideologies are those ideologies which are the leading system of beliefs in a given society at a
given time, they are the ones that are predominant ideologies, those ideologies accepted by eit her the
majority of people or by the people in power. Hegemonies shift with time-- at any given time, co-existing
with the le ading system of beliefs, are those that are rising in their inf luence (ascendant), while others are
fading ( or descendant); still others are oppositional to accepted hegemonic norms and eit her openly
challenge exist i ng hegemonic beliefs in a society (that is, they are considered anti-hegemonic) or simply
offer a new ideological stance or system of beliefs (that is, they are emergent ideologies) different from
the established or hegemonic system.
Hegemonic ideologies, especially in the hands of those in power, usually work to absorb these anti-
hegemonic or emergent ideologies and render them less threatening of change to the existing status
quo through such absorption and adaptation , or t hey work to marginalize such non-hegemonic views,
downplaying or minimizing their signif icance to society, t hereby reducing their power and potential ability
to alter the prevailing hegemonic view.
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