The management of contemporary public affairs involves many different centres of social power, engaged in complex and mutable relations, ranging from willing cooperation, to competition, to out-and-out conflict. This book emphasises the role played in these relations by political institutions in particular. Generally, these claim a special competence to authorise and regulate the activities of other institutions, but their claim is often contested by other power centres, serving different and sometimes contrasting interests. To explore those processes, the author, after identifying the nature of ‘the political', considers its dealings with other forms of social power. Among these, economic power gets particular attention, in view of the contemporary salience of the ‘state vs market' issue. But this book also considers the relations between politics at one end, and law, the public sphere, citizenship, and religion at the other.