Process-Sociological Concept of Power and Democratization and Its Empirical Implications

Thursday, 19 July 2018
Distributed Paper
Behrouz ALIKHANI, Reserch fellow and lecturer at the Institute for Sociology, Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster, Germany, Germany
The term ‘power’ is usually used as if it refers to an isolated object in a state of rest. Instead process-sociologically seen, power is an attribute of relationships: every relationship between human beings and groups of human beings is a power relationship. It has extraordinary theoretical and practical consequences if the concept of power would not be used in a reified manner, but in a connection with other words such as: power resources, power differentials, power chances, power balances, power potentials, power distributions, power shifts and power ratios.

Based on this understanding of the concept of power, one could grasp the degree of ‘functional democratization’ in different more or less democratized societies. The direction of processes of functional democratization indicates the growing distribution of all available power resources between all members in a society. On the contrary, processes of de-democratization could gain the upper hand if the power resources in a society become increasingly monopolized by a specific ‘sector’ and institution or group of influential individuals. Process-sociologically viewed, these two processes are taking place at the same time in all human societies. The question to be addressed is who among the carriers, advocators and supporters of two opposing processes could gain the upper hand at the end: the processes of democratization or the processes of de-democratization.

In this presentation, I will introduce this concept of power and the related process-sociological model of democratization and de-democratization. The empirical implication of such a concept and model will also be discussed.