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The influence of bureaucracy, market and psychology

Since the 1990s, European welfare states have undergone substantial changes regarding their objectives, areas of intervention and instruments of use. There has been an increasing move towards the prioritisation of the involvement of citizens and the participation of civil society. This book focuses on the altered (powerful) conditions for encounters between citizens and welfare workers. It uses the concept of soft power, which, inter alia, allows for the investigations of the ways in which individuals manipulate each other in an effort to achieve their desired goals. The first part of the book discusses extracts from state-of-the-art research on professions and expertise, and the perception of power that guides the analyses. It also discusses the overall theoretical positioning when analysing encounters between welfare workers and citizens as co-productive and interactionist. The second part presents analyses to show how a bureaucratic context affects the encounter between administrators and clients, and how a market context affects the encounter between service providers and consumers/customers. The analysis of how a psychology-inspired context affects the encounter between coaches and coaches is also provided. All three contexts are to be perceived as Weberian ideal types, in other words, theoretical constructs based on observations of the real world. The concluding part of the book emphasises on the role of the principles of the bureaucracy, the norms from psychology, and the values of the market in the welfare encounter. Key points of the book are summarised in the conclusion.

An exercise in pluralist political theory

This is a book about parents, power, and children and, in particular, the legitimacy of parents' power over their children. It takes seriously the challenge posed by moral pluralism, and considers the role of both theoretical rationality and practical judgement in resolving moral dilemmas associated with parental power. The book first examines the prevailing view about parental power: a certain form of paternalism, justified treatment of those who lack the qualities of an agent, and one that does not generate moral conflicts. It proposes an alternative, pluralist view of paternalism before showing that even paternalism properly understood is of limited application when we evaluate parental power. According to the caretaker thesis, parental power makes up for the deficits in children's agency, and for that reason children should be subjected to standard institutional paternalism. The liberation thesis stands at the other end of the spectrum concerning children's rights. The book then addresses the counter-argument that issues of legitimacy arise in the political domain and not in respect of parent-child relations. It also examines the 'right to parent' and whether parents should be licensed, monitored, or trained children's voluntariness and competence, and the right to provide informed consent for medical treatment and research participation. Finally, the book talks about parents' efforts to share a way of life with their children and the State's efforts to shape the values of future citizens through civic education. The overall approach taken has much more in common with the problem-driven political philosophy.

Encounters with biosocial power

Refiguring childhood stages a series of encounters with biosocial power, which is a specific zone of intensity within the more encompassing arena of biopower and biopolitics. Assembled at the intersection of thought and practice, biosocial power attempts to bring envisioned futures into the present, taking hold of life in the form of childhood, thereby bridging being and becoming while also shaping the power relations that encapsulate the social and cultural world(s) of adults and children. Taking up a critical perspective which is attentive to the contingency of childhoods – the ways in which particular childhoods are constituted and configured – the method used in the book is a transversal genealogy that moves between past and present while also crossing a series of discourses and practices framed by children’s rights (the right to play), citizenship, health, disadvantage and entrepreneurship education. The overarching analysis converges on contemporary neoliberal enterprise culture, which is approached as a conjuncture that helps to explain, and also to trouble, the growing emphasis on the agency and rights of children. It is against the backdrop of this problematic that the book makes its case for refiguring childhood. Focusing on the how, where and when of biosocial power, Refiguring childhood will appeal to researchers and students interested in examining the relationship between power and childhood through the lens of social and political theory, sociology, cultural studies, history and geography.

Understanding domination, empowerment and democracy

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.