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What Makes an Issue Political?


Politics is a common feature among human societies both in the past and in present. Politics is said to be an aspect of human behavior and hence the concept of politics is “human social activity” (Yan, Hong and Mair 72). There is no single definition of politics because it means different things to various people. Some define politics as activities that people engage in primarily for power. Harold Lasswell an American political scientist defines politics as “behavior adopted in pursuit of power” (Yan et al 72). On the contrary, others define it as “any persisting pattern of human relations which involves control, influence power or authority. Furthermore, others define politics as activities that take place in society and the implementation of authoritative decisions. The government does not only make the decisions directly, but other stakeholders like political parties and common people in the society also make indirect decisions in the society (Yan et al 72).

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Politics in society becomes the means through which social control takes place. This is because politics uses people’s efforts to establish authoritative institutions. The institutions make the people obey social authority as well as submit to the authoritative decisions made in that society. The creation of institutions that have authority in society is all “a political phenomena” (Yan et al 72). The authority in the institutions results from different sources. For example, the authority may come from God, and in this case, we have theological politics, when it comes from a hereditary tradition that becomes monarchical politics (Yan et al, p. 73).

Institutionalization of politics is an attempt to utilize laid down procedures that have the approval of the majority to establish structures that allow authoritative decision-making. The established structures rely on a system that has been consented to by the majority. On the other hand, we have different levels of authority in society. In a state, the constitutional authority is superior to that of ordinary laws “the ordinary “laws’ authority is higher than of administrative regulations”. (Yan et al, p.73)

Issues become political when there is “interplay between individuals and collective interests in the pursuit of their respective self-interest” (Leftwich 8). To begin with, political scientists identify the interests at stake and then weigh the Benefits and Cost of the issues to various stakeholders.


Media and politics go together. This is because the two are very close. The media highlights events taking place in the society as well as activities going on in the government. The events that the media highlights are sometimes in the public interest and this makes them issues political. The electronic and print media as well as the internet play a major role in shaping the public perception of issues. When the media covers an issue, it makes it a public agenda. The media may also make one issue higher than all other issues by “throughput priming” (Tiung 409). This means that an issue can become political or not depending on how the media frames it. Furthermore, the media has the power to influence people on how they perceive the people in charge of the issues highlighted. This means that the media has the power to change the perception of the majority concerning issues as well as politicians. Therefore, the media is stronger in shaping the opinion of the common person. It is important to note that the media can control any matter or issue as they wish because they control the way the issue is reported. This means that some of the issues that are accessed in the “media might be realities that are created by the media and do not really represent the actual situation “(Tiung 409).

The media is successful in framing issues in the public opinion because the consumers of news are sensitive to contextual cues when they reason about national affairs” the way the consumers or public explains the issues highlighted in the media depends on how the issues were furnished in their presentations (London 1). The frames in the news are not chosen conscientiously instead the framing is an effort of the journalist to convey an issue in a meaningful way. The news frames often reflect the shared societal values that resonate with social themes because the journalists are acutely sensitive to them.

Political agenda

The media shapes the political agenda. It is able to do this because by highlighting some issues which then become a public interest. As long as an issue is highlighted, in the media every one pays attention. One the other hand, when the media stops broadcasting that issue and moves on to other issue so does the public. This means that the people believe that the issues highlighted by the media are important and those that not regarded as less important. The authors of the book ‘News that Matter’ say “When television news focuses on a problem, the public’s priorities are altered, and altered again as television news moves on to something new.”(Iyengar & kinder 66).

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The media makes issues political because it gives the public a political agenda. The media does this because it influences the public mentally and organizes the world. Albeit, the media might not be successful in telling the public what to think it is successful in telling the public what to think about. For example, in Japan the issue of suicide has become a political issue. This has resulted from the media highlighting cases of suicide that take place in many Japanese families. The numbers has been on the rise making the issue a matter of concern. In fact, it became an issue during the Lower House Elections- the Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyoma mentioned the issue of suicide in his speech. This shows that the issue has become a national issue thus a political one. Making the issue a political issue will ensure that action is taken to establish why Japan a developed world leads in suicide deaths among the youth. Studies show that suicide deaths in Japan are higher than deaths caused by accidents (Pulvers, 2009, p.1).

Power and politics

Power is distributed differently in society. It plays a major role in decision-making in the society as well as controlling the lives of citizens of particular states. For example in Britain, the state controls individuals and their behaviour in a number of ways. It sets the standard for contractual relationships like marriages. Taxes citizens and corporate; regulates social relations through laws. Makes education mandatory between the age of five and sixteen for all children, gives power to certain people such as the police, doctors and they have the capacity to legally impinge in an individuals behaviour, offers employment, provides social services and do forth (Power and Politics 9).

There are theories of power in a society that determine how the society is organized and run. In the pluralist power theory, some people hold more power than others do and this leads to a competition among the groups fro power. In this kind of state, no group has control over the others due to the system of government established by the majority. The issue of power becomes political because the group without power feels as if they have been denied a right. Therefore, the less powerful groups will highlight issues that they feel are oppressive them and when they become public interest they are bound to become political. This is because power is perceived as a social resource. Therefore, everyone feels the need for the right to access this social resource. This can only be possible if the society is bale to mobilize resources available to attain social goals such as poverty eradication, improved living standards, provision of healthcare, education for all and others (Power and Politics, p.10).


Politics involves collective decision-making. The decision involves policies because they are the ones that affect how society is run. Any decision made affects people in one way or another and this often leads to conflicts in the society. The more complex a society is the harder it is becomes to make decisions due to the greater scope of disagreement. The media, pressure groups and other stakeholders politicize issues. Disagreements are based on different interests and values that people have. Hence, whatever decision is made it will always be bad for some people. This means that conflicts will always be present in the society and this is where the government comes in to try to come up with a decision that will satisfy most people if not all.

Works Cited

Iyengar, Shanto and Kinder, David, R. News That Matter. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1987.

Leftwich, Adrian. What is politics? : The Activity and Its Study. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 2004.

London, Scott.” How the media frames political issues.” 1993. Web.

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“Power and Politics.” (n.d). 2009. Web.

Pulvers, Roger.”Now Suicide Has Become A Political Issue, How Will Japan Address It?” The Japan Times Online. 2009. Web.

Tiung, Kohn. “Media Framing Of a Political Personality: A Case Study of a Malaysian Politician.” European Journal of Social Sciences 9. 3 (2009): 408-424.

Yan, J., Hong, Sung and Mair, C.Derrick. Toward A Democratic China: The Intellectual Autobiography of Yan Jiaqi.Hawaii: University of Hawaii Press, 1992.

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"What Makes an Issue Political?" StudyCorgi, 7 Nov. 2021,

1. StudyCorgi. "What Makes an Issue Political?" November 7, 2021.


StudyCorgi. "What Makes an Issue Political?" November 7, 2021.


StudyCorgi. 2021. "What Makes an Issue Political?" November 7, 2021.


StudyCorgi. (2021) 'What Makes an Issue Political'. 7 November.

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