Positioning Power

Friday, 20 July 2018
Distributed Paper
Reiner KELLER, University of Augsburg, Germany, Germany
This presentation introduces a new concept for use in Foucault-inspired power analysis: the concept of positioning power. For power analysis in the social sciences, this opens up a specific way of accessing a number of contemporary phenomena that are currently being discussed in the context of a sociology of the numerical, of assessment, or of evaluation. The positioning power concept is well-suited for the purpose of distinctly contouring the effects of these phenomena as they unfold in society. Conceptually, it is situated at the same level as Michel Foucault’s idea of biopower. Like the latter, positioning power is directed at diagnosing a specific form of governmentality regimes. The suggestion of introducing a distinct concept in conjunction with these regimes is connected to the social importance of the power/knowledge complexes it encompasses, complexes that have become very prominent in the last few decades. The talk will focus first on the social construction of value as a basic process of human cultural production. Subsequently, the positioning power concept will be explained in detail. A final portion of the presentation will then introduce fundamental considerations regarding a sociology of positioning power.