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chapterposted on 2017-03-31, 00:00 authored by Damien KingsburyDamien Kingsbury
This chapter discusses the idea of politics as part of, and central to, the process of development whereby people try to improve the quality of their lives. It suggests that, while such an idea is inherently normative, there is a range of sub-categories around which there is some agreement. The idea of a large, bonded political community is basic to political interaction, may express itself as a claim to nationhood, and the people of such a nation may wish to define themselves in relation to a usually delineated territory. This implies institutions serving the people of the territory, giving rise to the notion of the state. The chapter notes that these ideas are relatively innocuous, except where there is disagreement about who is and is not a member of the nation, whether the state is actually representative and whether its government is viewed as legitimate. This then raises the questions of voluntarism and compulsion about state membership, repression, opposition and transitions to and from authoritarianism. The counterpoint to such authoritarianism is the idea of a representative, accountable and presumably transparent political process, usually through a free and fair electoral process. However, such an outcome is not inevitable and, once it has been achieved, it is not always sustained.