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Chapter

Cover Issues in Political Theory

5. Power  

David Owen

This chapter assesses power, a basic concept of political theory. In its most fundamental sense, power is a dispositional concept that refers to the capacity to affect some feature of the world and the capacity to produce effects with respect to those feature of the world. The concept of power is closely bound in social and political contexts to the concepts of freedom and responsibility. There are different modes of power: power to, power with, power over, and power of. The power of an agent typically depends on the context of power in which they are situated and on the relations in which they stand to other agents within broader social structures. Moreover, exercises of power are always mediated — and, indeed, we often distinguishes forms of social and political power in terms of prominent general media through which they are exercised. The chapter then considers the three-dimensional view of power.

Chapter

Cover Global Political Economy

1. Introduction  

Nicola Phillips

This introductory chapter provides an overview of the ‘what, where, and who’ of Global Political Economy (GPE). GPE is a contemporary field of study which first took shape in the 1960s and 1970s under the label ‘International Political Economy’ (IPE). At its core, GPE is the study of the forms of power—economic, political, material, and social—which shape how the world operates. Despite their names, IPE and GPE have both been criticized for their lack of a ‘global’ viewpoint. This book aims to make a real contribution to the project of GPE as a genuinely ‘global’ field of study. GPE is—and needs to be—a genuinely interdisciplinary field, reflecting the best of the spirit of political economy. The chapter then highlights the value of diversity in the academic field of GPE. It explores how this book is organized and what it offers as a resource.

Chapter

Cover Global Politics

3. Power  

This chapter explores power within global politics by challenging the myth that power is a coercive force that elite actors utilise to promote their interests. It also expounds on Steven Lukes’ ‘three faces of power’ debate to clarify how power works at both obvious and hidden levels. The chapter then introduces the concept of power relations and how they influence the political world and people’s opinions and values. It also discusses how power produces knowledge, social norms, and identities. Finally, the chapter uncovers some of the subtle ways power influences the everyday lives of people, and how an awareness of power relations raises the possibility of resistance and change in global politics.

Chapter

Cover US Foreign Policy

11. Identities and US foreign policy  

Christina Rowley and Jutta Weldes

This chapter examines the role of identity in constructing U.S. foreign policy. Using a critical social constructivist approach, it argues that particular conceptions of U.S. identity constitute U.S. interests, thus providing the foundations for foreign policy. After providing an overview of the influence of interests on foreign policy, the chapter considers the basic assumptions of critical social constructivism, taking into account the social construction of reality and the concepts of discourse and articulation. It then analyses discourses as sites of power, identity, and representation, along with the importance of identity in U.S. foreign policy. It also looks at U.S. presidents’ articulations of state identity and foreign policy over the last six decades.

Chapter

Cover Human Rights

The Social Life of Human Rights  

Damien Short

This chapter looks into the development of sociological approaches to the study of human rights. It explains how sociology covered the ride of human rights through shared human vulnerability and collective sympathy, institutional threats, and assertion of powerful class interests, while anthropology deepened the understanding of socially constructed rights. Sociologists tend to view rights as inventions or products of human social interaction and power relations. The chapter then expounds on the concept of social constructionism in relation to power and social structure. It also explains that an ethnographic approach to human rights showcases how human rights function and their meaning to different social actors in varying social contexts.

Chapter

Cover International Relations Theories

11. Poststructuralism  

David Campbell and Roland Bleiker

This chapter examines how and why poststructuralism engaged International Relations (IR) from the 1980s to today. It begins by analysing the interdisciplinary context of social and political theory from which poststructuralism emerged, along with the misconceptions evident in the reception of the poststructuralist approach among mainstream theorists. It then considers what the critical attitude of poststructuralism means for social and political inquiry and draws on the work of Michel Foucault to highlight the importance of discourse, identity, subjectivity, and power to the poststructuralist approach. It also discusses the methodological features employed by poststructuralists in their readings of, and interventions in, international politics. The chapter concludes with a case study of images of famines and other kinds of humanitarian crises that illustrates the poststructural approach.

Chapter

Cover International Relations Theories

7. Marxism  

Mark Rupert

This chapter examines Marxist theory’s understanding of capitalism as an historically particular way of organizing social life and how Marxism can shed light on complex social relationships through which human beings produce and reproduce their social relations, the natural world, and themselves. It argues that the kind of social organization envisioned by Marxists has political, cultural, and economic dimensions that must be viewed as a dynamic ensemble of social relations not necessarily contained within the territorial boundaries of nation-states. The chapter first provides an overview of historical materialism and the meaning of dialectical theory, with particular emphasis on Karl Marx’s critique of capitalism and the Marxist tradition’s theorizing of imperialism, before discussing Western Marxism and Antonio Gramsci’s theory of hegemony. It then considers Marxist concepts of global power and hegemony and concludes with a case study that highlights the social relations underlying US global militarism.

Chapter

Cover US Foreign Policy

11. Media and US foreign policy  

Piers Robinson

This chapter examines the academic debates over the relationship between US public opinion, media, and foreign policy. It first considers the nature of US media and public opinion, including democratic expectations of mass media and public opinion, before discussing pluralist and elite approaches to understanding the links between media, public opinion, and foreign policy. It then explores the role of propaganda and persuasion with respect to US power projection, with particular emphasis on the ways in which public opinion and media can be understood as a source of power for — and as a constraint upon — US foreign policy. It also reviews contemporary debates regarding the impact of technological developments, such as the emergence of global media like the internet and social media, upon US power and influence.

Chapter

Cover The Globalization of World Politics

11. Poststructuralism  

Lene Hansen

This chapter examines the core assumptions of poststructuralism, one of the International Relations (IR) perspectives furthest away from the realist and liberal mainstream. It explores whether language matters for international relations, whether all states have the same identity, and whether the state is the most important actor in world politics today. The chapter also considers poststructuralist views about the social world, state sovereignty, and identity and foreign policy. Finally, it discusses poststructuralism as a political philosophy. Two case studies are presented, one dealing with discourses on the Ebola outbreak in 2014 and the other relating to Russian discourse on Crimea. There is also an Opposing Opinions box that asks whether poststructuralism provides a good account of the role that materiality and power play in world politics.

Chapter

Cover Rethinking Political Thinkers

9. Jean-Jacques Rousseau  

Peter Hallward

This chapter evaluates some of the central tensions that characterize Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s egalitarian account of sovereignty. He formulates this account as the basis for a participatory ‘social contract’, meaning a voluntary form of association that aims to be both general enough to include the people as a whole, yet concentrated enough to command their government and to over-power the divisive influence of a wealthy elite. As he argued in his main political works, if it is sufficiently forceful, such a collective will can counteract the forms of inequality and servitude that have accompanied the historical rise of propertied and exploitative classes. Rousseau’s radical conception of mass power would soon inspire the most uncompromising sequences of the French Revolution. However, its emancipatory promise was also limited by its author’s sexism, his anachronism, and his failure to engage with some emerging forms of inequality and power, notably those associated with the rise of commerce, capitalism, and the transatlantic slave trade.

Chapter

Cover The Globalization of World Politics

21. The United Nations  

Devon E. A. Curtis and Paul Taylor

This chapter examines the development of the United Nations and the changes and challenges that it has faced since it was founded in 1945. It opens with three framing questions: Does the UN succeed in reconciling traditions of great power politics and traditions of universalism? Why has the UN become more involved in matters within states and what are the limits to this involvement? What are the UN's biggest successes and challenges in its efforts to prevent and resolve conflict and to promote sustainable development? The chapter proceeds by providing a brief history of the UN and its principal organs. It also considers the UN's role in the maintenance of international peace and security, and how the UN addresses issues relating to economic and social development. Two case studies are presented: the first is about the role of the UN in dealing with conflict in Syria and the second is about UN peacekeeping in the Congo.

Chapter

Cover Politics in the Developing World

13. Violent Conflict and Intervention  

Astri Suhrke, Torunn Wimpelmann, and Ingrid Samset

This chapter analyses patterns of violent conflict in the developing world since the onset of decolonization. It examines shifts in how scholars and policymakers have understood such conflicts, and how these understandings have informed dynamics of foreign interventions and the international peace-building regime that developed in the 1990s. After providing an overview of decolonization and its aftermath, the chapter considers conflicts over social order during the Cold War as well as the nature of conflicts in the post-Cold-War period. It also discusses new forces that shaped conflict during the first decades of the twenty-first century, focusing on militant Islam and the ‘war on terror’, ‘people power’ and its aftermath, and the link between peace-building and military intervention in a multipolar world.

Chapter

Cover Global Politics

10. The State  

This chapter explores why the state is treated in International Relations (IR) as the most significant actor in global politics. It looks into interrelated myths that the state was founded by some divinely inspired social compact, and that today’s versions of sovereignty and anarchy are the only way to truly grasp the mechanics of global politics. These IR building blocks suggest that the locus of all power in global politics lies naturally and exclusively with the state. However, the chapter demonstrates that states are more often shaped and maintained by a myriad of power relations which operate beyond the remit of state authority. It also discusses the social contract theory variations of Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, and Jean-Jacques Rousseau.

Chapter

Cover The Globalization of World Politics

21. The United Nations  

Devon E. A. Curtis and Paul Taylor

This chapter examines the development of the United Nations and the changes and challenges that it has faced since it was founded in 1945. It opens with three framing questions: Does the UN succeed in reconciling traditions of great power politics and traditions of universalism? Why has the UN become more involved in matters within states and what are the limits to this involvement? What are the UN's biggest successes and challenges in its efforts to prevent and resolve conflict and to promote sustainable development? The chapter proceeds by providing a brief history of the UN and its principal organs. It also considers the UN's role in the maintenance of international peace and security, and how the UN addresses issues relating to economic and social development. Two case studies are presented: the first is about UN peacekeeping in the Congo and the second is about the 2003 intervention in Iraq.

Chapter

Cover Rethinking Political Thinkers

17. Catharine Macaulay and Edmund Burke  

Alan Coffee

This chapter discusses the contrasting philosophies of Catharine Macaulay and Edmund Burke regarding the fundamental nature of political society and the approaches to take on reform. Macaulay’s philosophy revolves around the core ideal of freedom as independence from arbitrary control. Additionally, Macaulay’s work recognized that people’s beliefs are shaped by the social environment but could be manipulated by elites. On the other hand, Burke’s philosophical beliefs are organic, contextual, and pragmatic while addressing the complexity and range of social considerations and human motivations that contribute to a viable and productive state. However, Burke’s philosophy could be challenged as to whether he provides protection against possible abuse of power or not. The chapter also covers the weakness in their philosophical works while considering equal citizenship rights for women and minority social groups.

Chapter

Cover Poverty and Development

25. Climate Change and the End of Development  

Dina Abbott, Gordon Wilson, and Alan Thomas

This chapter studies how the debate on climate change has evolved and how development relates to climate change. Climate change relates to development in two main ways. First, economic development is likely to exacerbate future climate change. Second, climate change as it occurs impacts on development, often negatively. The different ways in which climate change relates to development lead to different types of intervention. Climate change mitigation policies are designed to limit future climate change or reduce its impact but may themselves curtail development options. Climate change adaptation policies attempt to work with climate change and achieve development in spite of its impacts. There are also policies to cope with 'loss and damage', i.e. extreme, often irreversible, impacts which are too severe for adaptation. Lived experiences of climate change and of the effects of mitigation and adaptation policies demonstrate how their impacts result from the interaction of physical effects with existing social and power relationships, including those of gender.