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Patrick McGinty, Tom R. Burns and Peter M. Hall

Subject Banking and Finance
Sociology » Social Psychology

Key-Topics power, social control

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405124331.2007.x


In the social sciences, power and control are typically conceptualized in terms of the capacity or right of one agent (individual or collective) to get another agent to act in some specified way or even to act against her own will (Max Weber). In various ways, the most prominent contemporary analyses (for instance, Peter Blau and Robert Dahl, among others) view power as principally one actor's control of the behavior of another actor. This approach to power captures only a limited part of the phenomenon. In reaction, Talcott Parsons (1963) redefined power as mobilization of resources to achieve collective goals, and broadened the concept to include cooperative efforts and larger institutional venues. While an improvement, this too missed key aspects involving groups, organizations, and states. A larger and historically more important part of power conceptualization concerns attempts to structure or restructure the social and cultural matrix within which interpersonal power activities and collective enterprises are played out. This process we call meta-power, the capacity to construct the conditions, rules, and institutional formations under which individual and collective actors mobilize and apply resources to accomplish their intentions. Such structuring may involve the manipulation of norms and values as well as institutional arrangements. A given sociocultural structure may ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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