The Structure of “Politics”

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Taxonomic definitions of politics are chronically unable to extend class properties to the heterogeneous scope of political events, leading to the view that “politics” may be a standard cluster concept. Clusters of properties, however, may be arranged around core terms strongly retentive in ordinary uses of a concept. Some terms are even rigid designators, necessary and sufficient conditions for reference in all possible worlds. The concept of “politics” provides two core terms, “directiveness” and “aggregation,” though not rigid designators. Such a core structure concentrates the standard cluster-analysis of “politics” on extension, not carrying over to all aspects of sense, thus permitting a weak and revised case for taxonomy on nonidentifying core terms. The implications of core terms in the concept of “politics” include the restriction of research-utility as an adequacy criterion and the acceptance of conventional status for distinctions between political and nonpolitical events.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)859-870
Number of pages12
JournalAmerican Political Science Review
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1978
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science


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