INTERACTIONS.ACM.ORG NOVEMBER–DECEMBER 2015 INTERACTIONS 43
definitions of politics in five classical
political theories [ 3]. I will argue that
classical political theories provide
strong, concrete support for claims
that design is a political activity.
Moreover, looking at design through
the lenses of classical political theories
reveals interesting and complex sets of
Politics is a widely used and loaded
term. Alexander found that many
influential political theories contradict
one another in their definitions of
politics [ 3]. He noted, however, that
these theories do have several common
characteristics and that each theory
sheds a different light on the meaning of
the word. Here, I review these common P
characteristics and briefly present
five classical political theories that
Alexander attempted to generalize.
A central theme in definitions of
politics is a rule, a common standard
that regulates some aspect of human
lives. Politics is normally defined as an
activity through which people make,
preserve, and change the general rules
under which they live [ 3].
Political theorists do not view
politics as being identical to rules or
as a simple execution of the rules.
Rather, politics is an activity related to
the introduction or changes of rules in
situations where there is a division of
people in two classes:
• the rulers, a group of people who
have (formal or informal) powers to
define the rules that other people need
to follow, and
• the ruled, a group of people who are
(formally or informally) following the
rules defined by rulers.
Political theorists generally agree
that in politics the ruled are not simply
passive followers of rules; the ruled have
the opportunity to influence, actively
change, or disrupt the rules.
Robin George Collingwood defined
politics as the science of “rightness
or conformity to rule” [ 4]. According
to Collingwood, political action is
“the making and obeying the laws . . .
regulation, control, the imposition of
order and regularity upon things” [ 4].
Through politics, rulers and ruled are
attempting to meet shared standards
so that order can be achieved. For
Collingwood, politics is related to any
activity associated with rules (the view
that I share in this article): I M A
First female candidate for U. S. President addressing Congress in 1872.