The different characteristics of first-dimensional structured conflict are contrasted with second-dimension structural conflict. Central is the contrast between conflict that is focused upon goals and conflict that concerns principles. The former allows for system stability, while the latter is unstable, often revolutionary, characterized by constant resistance. This contrasting analysis is threaded with rich examples from the Middle East, South Africa and Northern Ireland. The chapter concludes with an analysis of non-violent resistance, exemplified by Nelson Mandela and Mahatma Gandhi, and theorized by Gene Sharp. Engaging with Sharp’s account, deep conflict is theorized as multidimensional resistance to structural reproduction. Moving beyond Sharp’s account, the problems associated with moving from resistance, thus structured conflict, to peaceful reconciliation are explored. It is argued that the capacity to move from zero-sum to positive-sum conflict is essential to successful peace processes.
Inspired by Robert Dahl, this chapter concerns the agency and causal dimension of power, whereby A makes B do something they would not otherwise do. Violence, coercion, authority and economic resources are analyzed. It is argued that coercive and authority-based exercises of power are fundamentally different, both sociologically and normatively. Authority power is positive-sum, while coercive power tends to be zero-sum. In this respect, as argued by Stewart Clegg, it is important to distinguish between ‘episodic’ and ‘dispositional’ power. Power-over does not equate to domination, as many exercises of power-over authority confer dispositional power to the less powerful. Such power relations are positive-sum, thus normatively legitimate. The concept of authority is expanded from hierarchical bureaucratic contexts, to include everyday authority, which citizens have most of the time, referred to as citizen’s authority.
This book explores the nature and workings of social and political power through four dimensions, which throw into relief different aspects of power-related phenomena. The analysis constitutes a sophisticated new framework that builds upon contemporary theoretical perspectives of power, including the work of Steven Lukes, Michel Foucault, Amy Allen, Clarissa Rile Hayward, Anthony Giddens, Pierre Bourdieu, Stewart Clegg, James Scott and Gene Sharp. The first dimension of power concerns agency between actors, including analysis of coercion, violence and authority. The second dimension involves structural bias, conflict and resistance, including both revolutionary and non-violent resistance. The third dimension concerns tacit knowledge, uses of truth and reification. This book moves beyond critique of ideology, developing Foucauldian theories of power/knowledge without nihilistic relativism by distinguishing different types of truth claim. The fourth dimension concerns the power to create social subjects, drawing both on genealogical theory, Norbert Elias on restraint and Orlando Patterson on social death in slavery. Haugaard distinguishes sociological from normative claims. While the four dimensions stem from sociological theory, the book concludes with a normative pragmatist power-based political theory of democracy and rights. This has significant implications for critiques of contemporary populism and neoliberalism. The book is theoretically sophisticated, yet written in an accessible style. Theory is explained using vivid empirical examples. Its originality makes it a ‘must-read’ for postgraduates and academics in the field. Yet, it is ideal for higher-level undergraduates and MAs, as a paradigmatic text on power. It is also indispensable for activists who wish to understand domination, resistance and empowerment.
Social death through slavery, death-camps and solitary confinement
This chapter explores the most extreme dominating aspects of the fourth dimension of power. Following Orlando Patterson, the phenomenon of ‘social death’ is analyzed. This is theorized through the institutions of slavery, Nazi concentration camps and solitary confinement. Central to social death is the creation of a social subject whose existence is totally for the purposes of other, characterized by power relations that are, what Philip Pettit terms, ‘arbitrary’. Slaves were typically terrorized to make them supress any sense of their own agency. In contrast, resistance to slavery means the creation of spaces of agency. Similarly, using the stories of Primo Levi and other survivors of the concentration camps, it is argued that the ultimate aim of the camps was social death followed by physical death. In contrast, survival entailed resistance through agency. The chapter concludes with Lisa Guenther’s account of social death through solitary confinement. The genesis of this phenomenon was the dream of re-socializing (so-called) deviant individuals into citizens. Deprivation of stimulus was intended to create a blank sheet that could be imprinted with virtuous characteristics. However, the result was usually a collapse of the social subject, with appalling consequences.
The fourth dimension of power concerns the creation of social subjects with specific socially constructed ontological predispositions. As argued by Foucault, this concerns how social subjects construct themselves as social objects in response to social context. Central to this is what Anthony Giddens terms ontological security. Actors gain ontological security by internalizing practical knowledge of (so-called) ‘reasonable’ social reproduction. This is both enabling and constraining. As argued by Erik Erikson, a society of settled river fishermen requires different social subjects than one of nomadic hunters. Building upon Norbert Elias, these social subjects internalize the restraints of their external social order, in a process of self-discipline, in order to gain local status authority. Success means self-restraint, while resistance entails rejection of status quo discipline, while typically embracing subculture restraints. Democratic and meritocratic societies presuppose specific social subject creation, which entails internalizing types of self-restraint particular to societies of modern complex interdependence. Such societies expect restraint with regard to everyday violence, yet can use these restraints to create professional killers for war. Subject creation is never complete, and even supposedly conformist social subjects have arenas in which they practise ritualized, thus safe, forms of resistance.
The introduction explores the concept of power, and gives a brief overview of the plan of the book. It is argues that there is no essence to the concept of power. Rather, following Ludwig Wittgenstein, power-related phenomena are ‘family resemblance’ concepts that serve as ‘conceptual tools’. As argued by Amy Allen, among these tools are the concepts of power-to, power-over, power-with, empowerment and domination. It is argued that conceptual tools belong to language games, which have their own logic. These include sociological empirical language games, which concern how power is, and normative political theory language games, to do with how power ought to be. While acknowledging the difficulties of this distinction, the Introduction makes the case for distinguishing the two forms of analysis. The Introduction explains the concept of dimensions of power, arguing that these are paradigmatic ways of looking at power, as ideal type conceptual tools, which rarely exist in their pure form.
This is the only mainly normative chapter, shifting emphasis from sociological theory to political theory. Throughout the book it is argued that all four dimensions of power have normatively desirable and undesirable aspects, and this is where these aspects of power are teased out. Normative desirability is based upon citizen’s authority, which entails the right to author your own life, and a pragmatist account of desirability as function. Essentially, what do citizens want power for? Desirable social structures are those that fulfil use function, as oriented towards social subject citizens for whom these political structures exist. Relative to the first and second dimensions of power, the democratic process and human rights are explored as ways of managing conflict in a manner that is positive-sum, giving dispositional power to the worst-off. With regard to the third dimension, reification is critiqued because it reverses the relationship between the social subject and the social structures she creates. In the fourth dimension of power it is recognized that certain forms of subject creation are normatively desirable, if facilitative of citizen’s agency power-to, while those connected with social death are dominating. Overall, the chapter explores the power-related conditions of possibility for creating tolerant plural democratic societies.
Conflict over structures or deep conflict, and dominant ideology
The second dimension of power concerns the structural aspect of power relations. This includes both structural bias (as theorized by Bachrach and Baratz) plus the phenomenon of structural conflict, which is theorized as deep conflict. Building upon James Scott and Clarissa Rile Hayward, structural bias is often sustained by a distinction between public and private ideology among the subaltern, known as the ‘dominant ideology thesis’. In contrast, structural conflict entails a challenge to the status quo and results in systemic instability. Structural conflict is associated with violence and coercion. Structural conflict is contrasted with structured conflict. In the latter, the rules of the game are shared. Consequently authority is reproduced, which is exemplified by the circulation of politicians in the democratic process. In contrast, structural conflict does not presuppose underpinning consensus, therefore it is a deeper form of conflict and is revolutionary in either potential or in actuality. This is explained using examples that illustrate the difference between the two levels of conflict.
Conventions, reification, the sacred and essentialism
This chapter continues the analysis of three-dimensional power and focusses upon processes whereby epistemic hegemony is maintained by obscuring the social construction of the order of things or social structures. The chapter opens by theoretically refuting a common misperception, which is that the conventionality (or the social constructedness of social structures) entails that they are arbitrary, which is an assumption that underpins justifications of reification. This is followed by an account of reification, which is theorized as a process of misrecognition whereby social actors are made to believe that social structures have some kind of essence that transcends social construction. Reification accords with the natural attitude, whereby the world is meaning-given. Following Michel Foucault, critique is theorized as the capacity to understand that which was made, or socially constructed, can be unmade. In contrast, in domination through reification structures cannot be unmade, because they are misperceived as never having been made in the first place. Reification through the sacred and profane is explored, linking to charismatic authority. The chapter concludes with essentialist forms of reification, including racism, patriarchy and orientalism.
Descartes’ error, reification of truth and fallible truth
Continuing three-dimensional power, this chapter engages with Foucault’s theorization of the relationship between power and truth. It is argued that in order to avoid self-refuting performative contradiction, it is important to distinguish between reifying truth claims, which are designated as Truth (with a capital T), and truth claims that are more modest, tentative or fallibilist. Descartes’ account of truth is reifying, thus an account of Truth. Yet, while mistaken, it is a powerful image that underpins everyday conflicts over knowledge. Following the distinction between reasonable and unreasonable practical knowledge, local systems of knowledge have to fight for status distinction. Central to epistemic conflict is the constant temptation to make reified Truth claims. Building upon Bourdieu, it is argued that fields of knowledge gain authority status by claiming to represent the Truth and, in so doing, confer epistemic capital upon those who are experts in that field. Unlike in Foucault, it is argued that systems of knowledge rarely simply disappear; rather, they lose authority status. Astrology would be a case in point; it has not disappeared, simply lost authority status since the Renaissance era.