Power, domination and human needs

Thesis Eleven 119 (1):47-62 (2013)
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Abstract

I elicit some of Foucault’s insights to provide a more realistic picture than is the norm in social and political theory of how best to identify and overcome domination. Foucault’s vision is realized best, I argue, by combining his account with two related conceptions of domination based on human needs and realistic accounts of politics that focus on agency, power and interests. I defend a genealogical, inter-subjective account of how the determination of needs and interests forms the basis of ascertaining, on a continuum, the extent to which relations of power generate states of domination. To that end I propose institutional changes that would empower citizens in positive and negative ways: power over legislation in district assemblies and via veto and repeal; real control over representatives through various means; and decennial constitutional plebiscites.

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