‘Politics’ is a noun that points to a field or sphere of human activity and interaction. ‘Political’ is an adjective that usually associates with other names to qualify and specify them.
Political behaviour, political institutions, political participation and political groups denote special kinds of behaviour, institutions, participation and groups whose specialty resides in their being 'political'. What does this specification refer to? This is the question that this book aims to answer.
The book unpacks the 'politics' understood as the production and distribution of 'behavioural compliance,’ as opposed to the view of politics as a distribution of values, an aggregation of preferences or a solution to social dilemmas.
Starting from a motivational definition of elementary political action, the endeavour proceeds to a differentiation of compliance instigations in different social fields of interaction, characterised by various levels of confinement of the actors and of monopolisation of command.
'This is an ambitious book that engages fundamental issues in the study of politics. Bartolini’s conception of political action as a search for compliance lays the basis for an analytical framework that is original, comprehensive, ingenious, and profound.'
Gary Marks, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
'This book marks a return to the basics, a recovery of the general vision. It is a provocative reflection on the core of the political. When the horizontality of politics is celebrated everywhere, Bartolini re-emphasizes the centrality of its vertical dimension; in a time in which everything is political it may be that nothing is really political. A work of such precision is urgent and necessary.'
Daniel Innerarity, Director of Globernance: Institute for Democratic Governance, San Sebastián
'Bartolini’s provocative work challenges contemporary political theory by proposing the search for compliance as the motivational micro-foundation of politics and the production of generalized and stabilized compliance as its non-substitutable societal function. Combining the distinctions of confined/open and monopolistic/plural fields of political interactions, the book also provides a powerful conceptual framework for analyzing the effectiveness and vulnerability of political rule in historical and contemporary empirical contexts.'
Fritz W. Scharpf, Emeritus Director, Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies