Analyse & Kritik 10 (3):3-31 (1988)

Thomas E. Wartenberg
Mount Holyoke College
The question of how to define the concept of social power has been a focus of controversy among social theorists. In this paper, I put forward a definition of social power that avoids many of the pitfalls of previous attempts at such a definition. Roughly, I define the power which one agent has over another as the ability that the dominant agent has to control the situation within which the subservient agent acts. Using this basic definition of power, I go on to define many of the central forms in which power actually exists, forms that are conceptualized by such concepts as force, coercion, and influence. I show that these different forms of power can all be understood as specifications of the generic definition of power that I offered and go on to develop an account of how they function in relation to one another in actual relationship of social power
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DOI 10.1515/auk-1988-0101
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