I've seen a post before asking the same question, except I didn't get all the information that I wanted.
I understand that it means, "it is" or "we're dealing with"? If this is correct, can you please give an explanation as to why one would use this phrase, and what the difference is between that and "es ist"?

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    Welcome to German Language SE. Can you please specify what post you have seen before asking this question? – Wrzlprmft Oct 15 '15 at 14:12
  • Concerning the missing "um": maybe not missing: dabei handelt es sich um, es handelt sich darum, genau darum handelt es sich, worum es sich handelt,... There are a lot of combinations possible. – Wolf Oct 15 '15 at 14:14

"It is a case of..."

I think the main point of this saying is that "es handelt sich um" includes that it is of "something" and therefore you have to have two aspects:

1) A concept/rule (Begriff/Regel) something is the case of

2) The reference of subsuming.

So the correct usage of this term is to name the concept/rule the proposition can be subsumed under afterwards:

Es handelt sich um einen Fall menschlichen Versagens.

It is a case of human failure

Here it is made explicit.

Es handelt sich um menschliches Versagen.

It is (a case of) human failure.

This is the same without explication, but in the German version the "a case of" is already explicit in "es handelt sich um".

Worum handelt es sich hier? (Um) menschliches Versagen.

What is all this about? Human failure.

Another application.

So it is a long version of "this/it is ...", making the subsumtion explicit.

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