A good definition for pathways can be found in wikipedia:
A biological pathway is a series of actions among molecules in a cell that leads to a certain product or a change in a cell. Such a pathway can trigger the assembly of new molecules, such as a fat or protein. Pathways can also turn genes on and off, or spur a cell to move. Some of the most common biological pathways are involved in metabolism, the regulation of gene expression and the transmission of signals. Pathways play key role in advanced studies of genomics.