Re-Structuring Power

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Steven Lukes and Clarissa Hayward have been at the forefront of the debate surrounding the relationship between power, structure, and agency Yet certain weaknesses beset their conceptualization of power and its relationship to structure and agency Both Lukes's and Hayward's conceptualization of structure is problematic, and neither theorist shows fully how power is instantiated in both structure and agency Consequently there are empirical instances that cannot be explained satisfactorily within one or the other framework. This article offers an in-depth critique of Lukes's and Hayward's conceptualizations of power especially their understandings of its relationship with structure and agency and sets out an alternative realist conceptualization of power that offers a way to avoid or minimize the weaknesses and tensions identified in their work. This approach, I argue, can help inform radical strategies that aim at freedom by transforming and transcending, rather than merely ameliorating, existing power relations and states of affairs. Polity (2010) 42, 352-376. doi:10.1057/pol.2010.9; published online 24 May 2010


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)352-376
Number of pages25
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2010