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Macmillan Higher Education Palgrave Higher Education

Theorizing Power

ISBN 9780230246577
Publication Date June 2012
Formats Paperback Ebook Hardcover 
Publisher Palgrave

If we're interested in why society changes and develops, and if we want to identify the forces that influence our personal beliefs and choices, then we must have an understanding of the nature and scope of human power.

This distinctively clear text critically evaluates how power is defined, conceptualized and theorized. Spanning 500 years of thinking in the field, the book examines ideas from classical and contemporary thinkers, from Machiavelli to Michael Mann. Theories are firmly rooted in their historical context alongside real-life examples to explain their relevance to our lives today.

Theorizing Power highlights the significance of power across all areas of social life, including gender, religion, morality and identity. It is the ideal text to stimulate thinking and debate on the subject of power for all students of sociology and politics.

JONATHAN HEARN is Senior Lecturer in Sociology at the University of Edinburgh, UK. He teaches on the topics of power, nationalism, and liberal forms of society. He is on the editorial board of the Journal of Political Power, and is the author of Claiming Scotland: National Identity and Liberal Culture and Rethinking Nationalism: A Critical Introduction.

Preface and Acknowledgements
Introducing Key Issues
Meet the Family: Domination, Authority and Legitimacy
European Sources
American Debates
Epistemological Approaches
Evolutionary Approaches
Domination, Authority and Legitimacy in Liberal Society
Religion and Morality
Gender, Power and Patriarchy
Identity and Personhood
Conclusion: To and Over, Is and Ought.


Theorizing Power is a beautifully written introduction to the most important debates in the field. The text explains definitions and concepts of power in the clearest way I have ever read.' – Richard Jenkins, Professor of Sociology, University of Sheffield, UK
'This book is quietly brilliant. With care, historical sympathy and critical distance, the book manages to do what many do not. It brings together theory and the world.' - Paul James, Professor of Globalization and Cultural Diversity, RMIT, Australia
'An excellent book which covers an impressive range of themes, ideas and debates in extremely clear and engaging way. Students will find the book easy to read, enjoyable and stimulating. A major contribution to current debates on 'power' within the social sciences.' – Robert Gibb, Lecturer in Sociology, University of Glasgow, UK
'Theorizing Power is a lucid mapping of the major theoretical dimensions of power, discussing it at all levels, from community and state to the evolution of social institutions. A strikingly argued text, useful for students and researchers alike.' - Randall Collins, Professor of Sociology, University of Pennsylvania, USA
'A clear, readable and insightful overview of theories of power. Providing an interdisciplinary and historical view of power in action, it is an ideal launching pad for those studying the topic' - G. William Domhoff, Research Professor in Psychology and Sociology, University of California, Santa Cruz, USA
'Theorizing Power is an admirable work. It has clarity in its prose that makes somewhat impenetrable authors like Bourdieu accessible for students and those uninitiated in the higher mysteries of continental theory. It also provides a conceptual framework for analysing contemporary power relations which other academics may find quite useful in their research.' - Gwilym David Blunt, Temporary University Lecturer in the Department of POLIS and Fellow of Corpus Christi College, University of Cambridge, UK
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