Definition of Politics by Different Scholars

Explore the diverse definitions of politics by Plato, Machiavelli, Locke, Marx, and Weber. Learn how these perspectives shape our understanding of governance and power dynamics.


Politics is a complex and multifaceted concept that has been defined and studied by numerous scholars throughout history. Different perspectives and interpretations of politics have emerged, reflecting diverse ideologies and worldviews. In this article, we will explore some of the definitions of politics put forth by various scholars.


Plato, the ancient Greek philosopher, defined politics as the art of ruling and being ruled in turn. According to Plato, political power should be entrusted to the most knowledgeable and virtuous individuals who possess the wisdom to govern society for the greater good.

Niccolò Machiavelli

In contrast, Niccolò Machiavelli, an Italian political theorist, presented a more pragmatic view of politics. Machiavelli believed that rulers should prioritize the maintenance of power and employ whatever means necessary to achieve their goals, even if it meant resorting to deception and manipulation.

John Locke

John Locke, an Enlightenment thinker and political philosopher, defined politics as the exercise of power within a social contract framework. Locke argued that individuals enter into a political community to protect their natural rights, such as life, liberty, and property, and that governments derive their legitimacy from the consent of the governed.

Karl Marx

Karl Marx, the German philosopher and economist, viewed politics through the lens of class struggle and economic inequality. Marx defined politics as the instrument through which the ruling class maintains its domination over the working class. According to Marx, true liberation can only be achieved through the overthrow of capitalist systems.

Max Weber

Max Weber, a prominent sociologist, emphasized the role of authority and bureaucracy in politics. Weber defined politics as the struggle for power and influence within formal organizations and institutions. He explored the concept of rational-legal authority, where rules and procedures dictate political decision-making.

Case Study: US Presidential Elections

A real-world example of the diverse definitions of politics can be seen in the US presidential elections. Candidates from different political parties espouse a range of ideologies and strategies, reflecting the varying perspectives on governance, power, and societal values. The electoral process itself showcases the complexities of political dynamics and the interplay of interests and influences.


The definitions of politics put forth by different scholars offer a rich tapestry of perspectives on governance, power, and society. By analyzing these diverse viewpoints, we can gain a deeper understanding of the complexities and nuances of politics as a field of study and practice.

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