According to Encyclopedia Britannica, micropolitics is about "small-scale interventions that are used for governing the behaviour of large populations of people."

According to the International Encyclopedia of the Social & Behavioral Sciences, though, the definition goes into completely different direction: "Micropolitics is almost inevitably a part of management as a principal strives to achieve control of and commitment from the staff."

An online dictionary suggests yet another meaning: "Politics on a small or local scale; especially (the study of) the political principles governing or issues arising from the interactions of a relatively small social group, a limited aspect of behaviour, etc., rather than society as a whole".

Therefore, what is the widely accepted definition for micropolitics?

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    What I think you have here is several independent coinages of the word. It is a fairly "obvious" combination meaning "small politics" But different people have at different times wanted to describe something as "small politics" and converged on the same word. That being so, there isn't a "generally accepted definition".
    – James K
    Commented Aug 1, 2022 at 14:00

1 Answer 1


There is no perfect single definition of micropolitics. However, here is a definition from the International Encyclopedia of the Social & Behavioral Sciences that is peer-reviewed (meaning it was double-checked and generally accepted by political scientists and behavioral scientists as a 'correct' definition):

‘micropolitics’ is a specific perspective in organization theory. It focuses on ‘those activities taken within organizations to acquire, develop, and use power and other resources to obtain one's preferred outcomes in a situation in which there is uncertainty or dissent’ (Pfeffer 1981 p. 7) because it considers them as most important for the constitution and the workings of organizations.

The micropolitical perspective of organizations is built on a specific image of organizations characterized by diverse goals and unclear areas of influence, a specific image of action and actors who typically pursue their own interests and try to protect or widen their room for maneuver, a special attention to organizational interaction interpreted as strategic and conflictual struggle about definition, structure, and resources of the organization.

I know the original poster has a similar definition from the same source, but this is also the definition that I was able to find in other peer-reviewed sources like The micropolitics of education: mapping the multiple dimensions of power relations in school polities and The Micropolitics of Knowledge: Communication and Indirect Control in Workgroups by Emmanuel Lazega, so it seems to be the closest thing to an 'official' definition by these various sources.

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    It may mean something in organizational theory, but may mean something quite different in another branch of the humanities or social sciences. Such is often the case. Still, may be useful.
    – Stuart F
    Commented Aug 2, 2022 at 9:15

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