Hannah Arendt on Power

In Keith Dowding (ed.), Encyclopedia of Power. Thousand Oaks: Sage. pp. 26-28 (2011)
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Abstract

Hannah Arendt’s (1906-1975) conception of power is entirely distinctive. It is rooted in a political philosophy that celebrates the public realm of freedom that emerges when people act with others as citizens or political equals. For Arendt, power is actualized where people act together to sustain or to change the world they share with one another. Her fundamental claim is this: ‘Power corresponds to the human ability not just to act but to act in concert. Power is never the property of an individual; it belongs to a group and remains in existence only so long as the group keeps together’. This entry offers some background to Arendt’s account, highlights two important contrasts that she makes between power and violence, and then points to her related notion of authority.

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Garrath Williams
Lancaster University

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