What is politics about? At its core, politics is about resolving matters that are contested in a society or group. It exists not only within and between states, but also within religious institutions, sports organisations, commercial
enterprises, schools and social organisations. Politics is driven by conflict, but also by cooperation. To understand politics, we must ask specific (‘key’) questions about the nature of political conflict, about persons, groups and institutions that are involved, about their resources, and about the wider context that both constrains and provides opportunities for all. It also requires an understanding of concepts such as power, influence and political community, and, of course, of the terms politics, conflict and cooperation. This book is about the ‘essence’ of politics, which is introduced by way of key questions and concepts that are indispensable for understanding politics in many different settings.