Doing Politics

Doing Politics is an open-access book from Richard Freeman, designed to unpack the everyday actions–the doing–of politics. Politics is a verb, and this user-friendly, almost interactive, book is a helpful guide in trying to make sense of it all. Bookmark this online text, and tuck into the search bar to help you navigate key concepts and ideas. 

Doing Politics , By Richard Freeman

From the book description

The development of the social scientific disciplines in the course of the twentieth century found little room for the study of politics as a human, social activity. This was in part because political science left it to sociology, and sociology left it to politics. It was perhaps in part, too, because people sought explanations for what goes on in other, bigger things, such as class and the structure of the state, or party and electoral systems. And it may have been because they thought there was nothing to see, and so nothing to explain: people on the streets, in town halls, in parliaments and international organizations were there to do politics, but they weren’t politics itself. Politics was not the talking, but what we talk about; politics was not the meeting, but the reason for meeting and what happened as a result.

When we teach politics, we talk about political institutions, international relations, public policy and political theory. But when we see politics – whether in the media or in the world around us – we see people doing all sorts of things: marching and shouting, chanting, occupying, organizing and campaigning, meeting and talking, debating and speech-making, reading and writing. And all this activity seems only heightened by austerity, as a new engagement in politics is expressed in public demonstrations of new and radical kinds, in referenda and associated discussion, in the formation of new parties, in an urge to ‘do politics differently’.

I want to see politics differently. I have an idea that much of the significance of politics is in all this doing, in its process as much as or as well as its outcome. I don’t want to say that we should do anything less than we’ve always done, let alone suggest that class and policy and federalism are any less important than we thought. I do want to say there’s something else we’ve always known but somehow always contrived to miss, which is that politics is a specific mode or domain of human activity and that its terms and conditions, the vocabulary and grammar of its doings and sayings, are worthy of attention in their own right.

Doing Politics, by Richard Freeman

Available to read for free, thanks to open access Creative Commons licensing. Click here to get started.

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