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Regular version of the site
Master 2019/2020

Political Power: Theoretical Discourse and Research Models

Type: Elective course (Complex Social Analysis)
Area of studies: Sociology
Delivered by: School of Sociology
When: 1 year, 3 module
Mode of studies: offline
Master’s programme: Complex Social Analysis
Language: English
ECTS credits: 3

Course Syllabus

Abstract

The course aims to give students basic knowledge of political power and the way it is studied in contemporary political science and sociology. The course is intended to build up a critical awareness of the different approaches to the study of power, and the difficulties in explaining political events through an examination of various forms and manifestations of political power. The course will help students to form their analytical skills, abilities to define and operationalise social concepts, prepare research programs and instruments for the empirical study of power and political influence. The course consists of three main parts: 1) conceptual analysis of power and its forms (meth-odology and principles for conceptualizing political concepts; basic problems in defining power; logic of the conceptual analysis of power; basic views on power; forms, bases and uses of power; indicators of political power); 2) main theories of political power (Marxist and neo-Marxist explanations of the distribution of power in modern societies; classical and modern pluralism; corporatism; classical and modern elitism; the basis of the convergence and remaining differences); 3) research models and main outcomes of empirical studies of political power in regions and local communities (early community power studies in US in 1930-1940; classical community power studies (F. Hunter, R. Dahl); positional, reputational, decisional and network approaches in the study of power; contemporary models of com-munity power (“growth machines” and “political regimes”); power structure and regimes in Russian cities and regions).
Learning Objectives

Learning Objectives

  • The course seeks to develop the students’ abilities in the four main areas: (1) a conceptual anal-ysis of “power” and other terms of political discourse; (2) different theoretical perspectives in the study of political power; (3) research methods used in empirical studies of political power; (4) a comparison of power structures in different societies and communities. By the end of the course the students will have learned about the nature of political power, its basic forms, bases and uses; strengths and weaknesses of major theoretical approaches and research methods used in the study of power.
Expected Learning Outcomes

Expected Learning Outcomes

  • Knowledge of basic views on power.
  • Knowledge of basic theories of political power: Marxism, pluralism, elitism.
  • Knowledge of empirical studies of power in local communities in USA, Europe and Russia.
Course Contents

Course Contents

  • Basic views on power.
    The nature of conceptual debates on power. Essential contestability of political concepts. Guidelines for the conceptual analysis of power. Basic problems in defining power. Actual/potential problem. Dispositional vs episodic conceptions of power. “The rule of anticipated reactions”. Power and intention. Outcome of power. “Power to”, “power over”, “power with”. Power and luck. Power and conflict. Asymmetry and balance in power relations. Power and interests. Agency, structure and power. Principles and logic of the conceptual analysis of power. Two traditions in defining power. Hobbes’ conception of power. Weber on power and authori-ty. Behaviouralist view on power. Power as a special case of the exercise of influence (H. Lasswell). Dahl’s “intuitive” definition of power (A has power over B to the extent that he can get B to do some-thing that B would not otherwise do”). Debates over “faces of power”. (P. Bachrach and M. Baratz, S. Lukes). Modern contributions to the conceptual analysis of power (P. Blau, S. Clegg, T. Wartenberg. P. Morriss, G. Debnam, K. Dowding). The alternative tradition in conceptualizing power (T. Parsons, H. Arend, J. Habermas, A.Allen, J. Hearn, M. Haugaard). M. Foucault on power. The bridge-building approaches (Allen, Haugaard, Gohler). Forms of power. Individual and collective power. Force, coercion, inducement, persuasion, manipulation, authority. Power and authority. Power and domination. Power and empowerment.
  • Modern theories of political power
    “Political power” as subcategory of “power”. Forms of political power. State power. Political coercion. Political authority. Political influence. Political manipulation. Resources of political power. Political mobilisation. The assessment of political influence. Who governs? Who benefits? Who sits? Who shines? Who exercises control over ideas? Who determines political agenda? Political power and political institutions. Marxist and Neo-Marxist theories of political power. Classical Marxism. Evolution of Marx’ explanation of political power. State as an instrument of the dominant class. Relative autonomy of the state. “Functionalist” model of the state in capitalist society. Neo-Marxism (A. Gramsci, L. Althusser, N. Poulantzas). Instrumentalist interpretation of the state in capitalist society (R. Miliband). “State in capitalist society”. Structuralist interpretation of state as a capitalist state (N. Poulanzas, C. Offe). “A capitalist state”. Strategic-relational approach (B. Jessop). Tripartite typology of “levels of power” (R. Alford and R. Friedland). “Situational power”, “institutional power”, “systemic power”, their man-ifestations and interrelation (E.O. Wright). Class interpretations of domination in the USSR and mod-ern Russia. Relevance of Marxist explanations of political power to modern Russian politics. Elitism. Classical elitism. (W. Pareto, G. Mosca, R. Michels). Democratic elitism (M. Weber, J. Schumpeter, J. Higley). J. Higley on the types of elites. Elites and democracy. Ch.W. Mills “The Power Elite”. Institutional elitism (T. Dye). Non-Marxist class-domination theories of power (W. Domhoff). Corporatism and neo-corporatism (Ph. Schmitter). Elitism in Russia (O. Gaman-Golutvina, O. Krystanovskaya). Pluralism. Classical pluralism (A. Bentley, D. Truman, D. Riesman). Absence of power elite in modern democracies. Institutional pluralism (R. Dahl, G. Sartory, N. Polsby). Society is a struggle of competing groups within an arena refereed by the state. Polyarchy. Multiply memberships. Conflicting allegiances to diverse groups. Multiply sources of power. Non-cumulative resources of power. The separation of economic from political power. “Competitive equilibrium”. The neutrality of the state. Separation of governmental power: plurality of competing governmental agencies, divisions and branches, existence of political parties Absence of dominant ideology. Modern pluralism. Hyperplural-ism (T. Lowi, D. Yates). Stratified pluralism (Truman II, R. Dahl, R. Waste). Privatized pluralism (G. McConnell, R. Bauer). Reformed pluralism (J. Richardson, A. Jordan). Neo-pluralism (Ch. Lindblom). Consociationalism (A. Lijphart). Relevance of pluralist explanations to modern Rus-sian politics. The convergence between theoretical perspectives on power.
  • Community power studies
    Distribution of political power in cities, towns and communities as a subject of study in political science and sociology. Early empirical studies of power in local communities (R. and H. Lynd, W. Warner, A. Hollingshead). Floyd Hunter’s study of Atlanta. Reputational method. The structure of power in Atlanta: polity-makers and policy-executors. Indicators of elite’s unity. Wealth as the main resource of power. Informal mechanisms of power. Criticism of the elitist methods of studying power in communities (R. Dahl, N. Polsby). Robert Dahl’s study of New Haven. Decision-making approach. Pluralist patterns of power in New Haven. Indicators of pluralism. Absence of the ruling elite. Specialisation of influence in major institutional sectors. G.W. Domhoff vs R. Dahl. Network analysis as a method of studying power. Synthetic approaches to the study of power in communities (R. Presthus, R. Agger, D. Goldrich, B. Swanson). The community power continuum. Diversity of urban regimes and types of power structure in communities. Variables in community decision-making (T.N. Clark). International comparative studies (D. Miller). Multidimensional conceptions of power in community power studies. Matthew Crenson’s study of the pollution issue. Manifestations of non-decisionmaking in community power. John Gaventa’s test of three-dimensional power in Appalachia. Modern power studies in American and European communities. Political economy of “place”. “Growth machines” thesis (H. Molotch, J. Logan). “Rentiers” and other key actors in urban growth coalitions. “Regime theory” (S. Alkin, C. Stone). Clarence Stone’s study of regime in Atlanta. Building regimes and collective action problem. Urban regime and governance. Types of urban regimes. Criticism of political economic approaches. Urban political regimes in European cities. Relevance of machine and regime models for the study of urban and regional politics in Russia. Empirical studies of power in Russian regions and local communities (A. Chirikova, V. Gelman, N. Lapina, V. Ledyaev, D. Seltser, R. Turovsky).
Assessment Elements

Assessment Elements

  • non-blocking classes
    Evaluation of the participation at the seminars (30%) consists of: frequency of attending classes; level of preparation for seminars; degree of activity at the seminars.
  • non-blocking presentation
  • non-blocking Oral exam.
    100-point scale 10-point scale 0-19,99 1 20-27,99 2 30-37,99 3 38-42,99 4 43-53,99 5 54-60,99 6 61-67,99 7 68-77,99 8 78-85,99 9 86-100 10 Grades 0, 1, 2, 3 correspond to a ‘fail’; 4, 5 - ‘satisfactory’; 6, 7 – ‘good’; 8, 9, 10 – ‘excellent’ performance on the 10-point scale.
Interim Assessment

Interim Assessment

  • Interim assessment (3 module)
    0.3 * classes + 0.5 * Oral exam. + 0.2 * presentation
Bibliography

Bibliography

Recommended Core Bibliography

  • Hearn, J. (2012). Theorizing Power. [N.p.]: Palgrave Macmillan. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsebk&AN=1525971

Recommended Additional Bibliography

  • Domhoff, G. W. (2006). Chapter 12: Who Rules America? In Inequality Reader: Contemporary & Foundational Readings in Race, Class, & Gender (pp. 99–104). Taylor & Francis Ltd. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=sih&AN=50322653
  • Dowding, K. M. (2011). Encyclopedia of Power. Thousand Oaks, Calif: SAGE Publications, Inc. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsebk&AN=474293
  • Власть: концептуальный анализ, Ледяев В. Г., 2001