Power Relational, Discursive, and Performative Dimensions

Sociological Theory 31 (3):193-218 (2013)
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Abstract

This article draws on the conceptual link between power and causality to develop an account of the relational, discursive, and performative dimensions of power. Each proposed dimension of power is grounded in a different understanding of social causes: relational-realist, discursive-hermeneutic, and performative-pragmatic. For the purposes of empirical analysis, this dimensional schema crosscuts the classic sources of power typology developed by Michael Mann and others, thus rendering the conceptual apparatus for pursuing sociological research on power more complex and explanatorily effective. The schema is illustrated by an example from comparative-historical sociology: explaining the storming of the Bastille and its effects. A series of research questions for investigating the relative autonomy of performative power is proposed. Finally, the current schema is situated vis-à-vis classic sociological theories of power, including the arguments of Steven Lukes, Michel Foucault, and Pierre Bourdieu, among others

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