The Many Faces of Power: A Current Conceptual Synthesis

Wednesday, 18 July 2018: 15:30-17:20
RC35 Conceptual and Terminological Analysis (host committee)

Language: English

Power is one of the most challenging and influential concepts in the social sciences, specifically in connection with phenomena – as proposed by the conference theme – like violence and justice. Despite the significance of the idea of power or even because of it, we find a variety of diverse conceptions that (sometimes strongly) differ from each other because they originate from divergent epistemological perspectives and focus on particular aspects. Seizing the international framework of the ISA Congress, this session challenges the idea of power with a view to establish bridges between its diverse conceptions along the following three lines: The first one distinguishes between “universality” (Nietzsche, Popitz) and “particularity” (Weber, Elias), considering fundamental anthropological forms of power on the one hand and historical ideal types on the other. The second one differentiates between “intentionality” (Popitz, Weber) and “structure” (Foucault), parting on the one hand from the conviction that power is exerted on others based on intended action and on the other, that it is an effect of structurally established discourses. The third line of argumentation distinguishes between “objectivity” (Marx, Durkheim) and “subjectivity” (Berger/Luckmann, Bourdieu), reflecting the possibility of contradicting definitions of the situation between power holders and those exposed to it (and thus the possibility of latent power). The session encourages researchers from diverse epistemological paradigms to hand in proposals to build theoretical ‘bridges’ between diverging power conceptions. The general intention is to establish a synthesis of theories of power, an achievement that has not been accomplished so far.
Session Organizers:
Jochen DREHER, University of Konstanz, Germany and Andreas GOETTLICH, University of Konstanz, Germany
Jochen DREHER, University of Konstanz, Germany and Andreas GOETTLICH, University of Konstanz, Germany
Oral Presentations
Cybernetic Causality and Social Power
Barbara HANSON, York University, Canada
The Two Languages of Power
David STRECKER, University of Frankfurt, Germany
Sources and Limits of Power
Boris HOLZER, University of Konstanz, Germany; Christian HILGERT, University of Konstanz, Germany
Hegemony – Stabilizing Supremacy
Diana LENGERSDORF, University of Bielefeld, Germany; Tanja JECHT, University of Bielefeld, Germany