Is Power Central to Understanding Politics?

2270 Words Feb 13th, 2013 10 Pages
Is power central to our understanding of politics? In what way does Foucault's concept of power alter conventional understanding of politics?

The notion of power had a time honoured status in the history of political science. The concept of power has gained prominence in the recent times especially with emergence of Behaviouralism as a method of studying politics. It focuses on the study of politics as a process or activity with an interdisciplinary approach. The debate on the centrality of the concept of power for understanding the politics is the interaction with the different space and time. And the intervention of Foucault comes in this way as a breakthrough from the conventional notions of power.

The Power: Meaning, Nature,
…show more content…
According to him ‘when power is apparently exercised with the consent of its subject, it is called ‘hegemony’. Thus the Marxian conception projects an ideal classless egalitarian society.

Elitist Theory:
Elitist theory is the oldest conception of power. It shows the power as a tool in the hands of a limited person or a group. We see the beginning of elitist theory and its justification in the thoughts of Plato, Aristotle, Machiavelli and Hobbes. It was the Plato who put forward the rule of ‘Philosopher King’ who has the wisdom over the mass who failed to control their appetite. Aristotle who was mostly concerned about the stability of the politics suggests the rule of the minority over the majority. “The Prince’ written by Machiavelli describes how the ruler control the forces of human nature as a part of his statecraft. For Hobbes the sovereign and omnipotent Leviathan is the synonym of the power. The elitist theory which emerged as a critique to Marxist notion questions the possibility of an egalitarian society. Unlike class theory they argue that people differ in their natural attributes and hence the social stratification is never negligible. While early theorists like Pareto and Mosca talk on the personal attributes of elites, later theorists focus on the institutional framework. The term ‘elite’ was used by Pareto to indicate superior social group 6. He proves that ‘the history of mankind is a graveyard of aristocracy. Mosca tried to conceptualize the

More about Is Power Central to Understanding Politics?

Open Document