Coercion as enforcement, and the social organization of power relations: A rubric for distinguishing coercion from related phenomena


Authors
Scott Anderson
University of British Columbia
Abstract
The traditional understanding of coercion as exemplified by the use of force and violence to constrain the actions of agents has been challenged by theories that describe coercion instead in terms of the pressure it puts on some agents to act or refrain from acting. Building on earlier work defending the traditional understanding and rejecting the ‘pressure’ accounts of coercion, I argue in this paper that the traditional understanding of coercion, which I dub ‘coercion as enforcement’, provides a helpful analytic tool for identifying coercion in peripheral cases, and thereby supporting the theoretical implications that are supposed to follow from the claim that someone has been coerced. In particular I analyze the coerciveness of the practices of credit-card issuers and institutions of higher education, and the demands by Greece’s creditors that the Greek government institute fiscal austerity, or else leave the European Monetary Union.
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