Politics is about power, specifically when it is used for (or justified by) public purposes. Political science examines the origins, uses, justification, and distribution of power in society, as well as the relationship between power and other social "goods" such as wealth, rights, and liberties. The nature, organization, and functions of the state, as the sovereign center of political power, are among the main subjects of politics. The branch of politics dealing with relations among states is called international relations. Political science can be both descriptive and normative. When descriptive, it investigates how power, wealth, and rights actually are distributed. When normative, political science (or political philosophy) explores how they ought to be distributed. The nature of justice is thus one of the major concerns of political philosophy. Politics, in short, is about how societies are governed, how competing ideas about what is best for society are articulated and resolved, and how decisions in one part of the world affect other parts of the world. The study of politics provides an opportunity to understand not just how societies work, but also how to make them better.
The study of culture is integral to history and politics. Human beings are cultural beings because we seek to give our experiences meaning. The record of this search for meaning (and the way we interpret it) is the history of culture. Yet the idea itself of culture--from its first appearance in the late eighteenth-century English literary tradition as "the best that has been thought and said" (culture as moral edification) to the twentieth-century anthropological concept of culture as a "whole way of life" (culture as the totality of practices in a given society)--is of modern origin. The study of culture thus offers an opportunity to learn not only about the human search for meaning, but also about the historical development of key concepts and discourses in the humanities and social sciences, which are themselves part of that search.
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