Politics is the organized set of societal activities which are concerned with making collective decisions on behalf of citizens, including the distribution of status or resources, or both, in certain groups. The field of political science is known as social science because the studies it conducts are typically descriptive rather than predictive. This simply means that politics is concerned with the current state of society, rather than predicting what will happen in the future. Politics has been with us since the dawn of civilization, with some historians claiming that man first elected politicians to office.
Throughout history, kings and their lieutenants controlled political power. Kings would attempt to maintain order through an iron hand, exerting their will over conquered tribes, cities and individuals. Aided by the propaganda offered by their mouthpieces, the lieutenants were able to convince their subjects to submit to their rule and aid them in wars. Throughout history, this has remained as one of the most powerful influences in shaping global politics. Today, the modern workings of politics can be traced back to the efforts of the ancient monarchs to maintain their rule over their subjects.
The modern era witnessed a new form of political power being centralized in the form of the imperial throne. The tutelary kings who took the place of the older royal families exerted their will over their subjects by wielding absolute political power. By exerting their will, they tried to hold together the diverse cultural and religious groups that made up the various kingdoms. Although they held absolute power, they could not influence the masses as they had the previous. Thus, they needed to have a governing board to help them in governing the various areas of their influence, like the education of their subjects.
In this manner, the governing board was established to enforce the will of the ruler through the use of coercive tactics, which included the use of threats, the use of force, and even the enforcement of laws against those who did not toe the line. The educational reform movement during the twentieth century saw some major achievements in undoing the political clout of the absolute rulers. However, many were to point out that this was only partial, and that the total scope of coercive influence is yet unknown. Today, a similar situation is faced by educational institutes. There are no specific ways in which they can exert their will on their subject students, except for resorting to the use of threats of violence or coercion.
Since they lack the means to physically wield the carrot of rewards, they resort to using what is known as rewards and penalties to get their subjects to toe the line. However, they still have to realize that power tactics must be employed in conjunction with soft tactics to effectively carry out their agenda. Therefore, the question that arises is that how are the different forms of political influence to be differentiated? For instance, what are the different forms of political persuasion and soft tactics used? Can we differentiate between the two?
Politics has been used by all sorts of people and has been used by many generations of people, all through history. The bottom line is that politics is an interpersonal phenomenon where two or more individuals come together to form an opinion, base their decision on that opinion and reach a conclusion about that opinion based on that opinion. Where there is power in the equation, there are also inevitable conflict and resultant rewards and penalties.