Western Political Quarterly
There is an ambiguity in Aristotle's Politics concerning the character of a good regime. This ambiguity has its roots in conflicting conceptions of politics entertained simultaneously by Aristotle. Sometimes Aristotle treats politics as a service rendered by art, and sometimes still as an attempt at self-protection through the rule of law. But the primary conceptions of politics are as an instrument of education, on the one hand, and as a reward apportioned to the meritorious, on the other. The difficulty with these two primary conceptions is that the educational responsibilities of the polis require power-sharing among all groups whereas the operation of distributive justice necessitates concentration of power in the hands of a worthy few. The political association therefore is at once egalitarian and elitist and points both to democracy/polity and to aristocracy/monarchy as the best regime.
Coby, John Patrick, "Aristotle's Four Conceptions of Politics" (1986). Government: Faculty Publications, Smith College, Northampton, MA.