Monday, January 30, 2006

The three dimensions of power

Some discussion for this week:

Tuesday, 1/31 the Third Face of Power

1) How does Stephen Lukes propose improving on the first two faces of power?

2) According to Lukes, the 3rd face of power allows us to consider the how some might enthusiastically and earnestly participate in their own oppression. How does this work? What methodological issues does this raise?

3) How do we know what someone's "real" interests are? What is wrong, according to Lukes, with just asking them?

4) Does Lukes expand the concept of power too far, so as to include influences that are freely adapted? How can we tell if, say, a consumptive choice is freely chosen?

5) Is Lukes developing the notion of power and prestige developed by Simmel?

16 Comments:

At 12:39 PM, Blogger malia said...

the question i found interesting was the one about why can't we ask someone what their real interests are? so then it comes back to real interests vs. perceived interests and how those interests are different! if you ask someone what their real interests are they will respond by refering to their perceived interests, and perhaps fail to touch upon their real interests, which are a person's basic needs! If you ask a person what their interests are they might be swayed by other people, culture, or their own desires and these interests may not reflect their real interests but the intersts of others. interesting question and interesting thought that they are different!

 
At 4:44 PM, Blogger david wilkerson said...

In response to number 4, Lukes makes the point that the choices people make may be informed by exercises of power that are hidden to them. Finding cases of freely adapted choices is rendered very difficult by this view of power. I don’t think this means the definition goes too far, almost every choice or nonchoice made in society is influenced by some entity, and usually involves a conflict of interest. A consumer is interested in maximizing their happiness with the constraint of the existing power structure; there really are no freely chosen consumptive choices. Consumers and producers have conflicting interests, and will attempt to influence each other through many different exercises of power trying to maximize their opposed interests. As we discussed in class interests are often counterintuitive, and thus determining if an action is freely chosen will be difficult. The best remedy to this problem is to expand the definition of power to try and capture a wide view of influences and associated interests and realize that free choice is nearly nonexistent.

 
At 4:59 PM, Blogger emily sander said...

Question 3. I think Lukes gave readers some additional ways of looking at people’s interests that are good – the unobservable side of things, behaviors that stem from the society and culture they live in, and the form of organization or system they live in. I also think there are several reasons brought up throughout his essay about why it’s difficult to figure out what someone’s real interests are. One being, again, the problem of definitions – on page 30 he alludes to the fact that power is value-dependent and therefore power is an essentially contested concept. He further states power of A over B is subjective to what people consider “non-trivial or significant manner”. Secondly, he later says interests are evaluative “…if I say that ‘policy x is in A’s interest’ this constitutes a prima facie justification for that policy…So it is not surprising that different conceptions of what interest are are associated with different moral and political positions” (37). Third, he mentions the difficulty in drawing a clear line between structural determination and an individual’s exercise of power. He answers an exercise of power, “assume[s] that it is in the exerciser’s or exercisers’ power to act differently” (57). He’s therefore relating it to responsibility and consequences being directly linked to a particular person’s action or inaction. However, the chain back to a specific individual and the motives of that person are still subjective. And finally there’s the whole problem around not being aware, or unconscious, of the consequences of your actions – this may lead to blurring the line of real vs. perceived interests in your own head.

 
At 9:34 PM, Blogger Tim Allar said...

3. People misunderstand their own interests otherwise known as their real interests. Our perceived interests are not our real interests. We can relate real interests to Marx in which these are the interest of the economic class your in. Everyone seems to perceive things differently that includes interests. We can't really know what someone's real interests are because if we were to ask them they would reply with their perceived interests which are molded by the culture, and people around them.

Lukes proposes improving on the first two faces of power by dissecting 'interests' into perceived and real interests, also writing about the power of socialization and how it is a way to get people to do things and also about the power of ideology.

 
At 5:47 PM, Blogger Chris Dawson-Ripley said...

Lukes believes that person b will particpate in their own oppresion if they are acted upon by a force powerful enough to keep them from realizing their own interests. Socialization plays a huge role here in creating boundries that are (supposedly) in their interest. These roles change over time though. For many years society convinced women that it was not in their interest to get a college education. Although some women tried to fight this expectation, and attempted to go to college, most accepted the limitations placed on them without question. Lukes argues that the third face of power can keep someone from even considering conflict, unlike the second face where conflict is considered and then the idea is discarded. One of the problems with this method is determining real interest. Going back to the previous example, in the past college may not have been in many womens best interests in past times. Although they would have certainly benefited from the knowledge they recieved, most of society would not recognize their achievements and some may have been shunned as "uppity" or not knowing their place. College might have made their lives harder. This raises the question of what the real interests are: 1) To live one's own life and not let society dictate your position, despite pain it may cause or 2) To live a life free from as much stress as possible. It is hard if not impossible to choose someones interests for them especially in this case.

 
At 12:59 AM, Blogger Avery Greene said...

I thought our discussion involving real and perceived interests was incredibly interesting. After out discussion, I am not sure if you can ever truly know someone's real interests. You would like to think that if you asked someone what they were trying to accomplish with a certain action that they would tell you the truth and that truth would be their real interst. However, the point made about anorexia and how someone who suffers from this disease really got me thinking. One could think they know what their real interest is and might be making decisions that will help them reach their goals, however, how much does the unconscious affect us? What pressures do we integret from the outside world that blur our interests and might make our real interests in fact our preceived interests.

 
At 9:32 PM, Blogger Josh Campbell said...

There have been many interesting responses to question three. I would say that the real interests of a person are those that allow them to survive. We are unable to just ask someone because their view of their real interests might be hindered due to the world around them. Many factors influence a persons day to day decisions. However the most interesting point brought up in class hit closer to home for me. How do i know if i'm acting in my real interests? It is easy to look at the anorexic man/women and say they are acting in their precieved interests by not nurishing their bodies, but this is from an outsider point of view. If i think of myself from an outsider's perspective am I acting in my real intrests after all my basic needs are meet? Or is their an invisible underlying real intrest path I should be taking? If i graduate and get a job that I could have recieved without my college degree does that make college and this university a precieved interest, or is it a real interest because I know more about my suroundings and am able to make better decisions towards my real interests?

 
At 12:47 AM, Blogger Keith Luengen said...

Lukes is quick to point out that two-dimensional power has several flaws. First, conceptualizing power simply as the exclusion of potential issues through decision making, as noted in the segregation example, implies that decisions are made consciously by individuals, between alternatives. However, Lukes argues that power structure is sustained by the behavior of groups of individuals, who are socially structured and culturally patterned. For Lukes, theorists of the first two faces of power adopt too individualist a view of power, like Weber, who defined power as “. . . the probability of individuals realizing their wills despite the resistance of others . . . (SL2, p. 26). The action of a group of citizens is not always attributable to only one person. To expand, Rosa Parks’ refusal to give up her seat was but a part of the total sum of the civil rights movement.

 
At 11:05 AM, Blogger Amy Ly said...

Luke describe the 3rd face of power of people participating in their own opression willingly because of not knowing their real interest vs their objective interest. People may believe having nice things and so forth are their interest. However, Simmel would claim they're making their choices unconsciously because they are subordinate to the prestige, which could be the influence from the media, celebrity, etc. The methodological issues this raises is our objective interest are taking us away from our real interest. Therefore, we tend to choose oppression than freedom, even though we are against this, because of our unconscious choice.

 
At 6:42 PM, Blogger Jordan Reffett said...

Number 3. I think this thing with real interest and percieved interest is very confusing. The real interest is not what you want but what you ultimately need. Percieved interst is what your mind thinks you want and what maybe your body does not ie. anorexia. I believe all interest concepts come from Marx's definition of class. It depends on what class you are in and what circumstances that come about in your life. I would like to talk about percieve interests and what i think about Lukes theory, i am a firm believer that i am well aware of my own real interest and that only people with narrow and mental illness have a problem finding out what their real interest are. It may be complex than that but thats what i feel.

 
At 6:43 PM, Blogger Jordan Reffett said...

Number 3. I think this thing with real interest and percieved interest is very confusing. The real interest is not what you want but what you ultimately need. Percieved interst is what your mind thinks you want and what maybe your body does not ie. anorexia. I believe all interest concepts come from Marx's definition of class. It depends on what class you are in and what circumstances that come about in your life. I would like to talk about percieve interests and what i think about Lukes theory, i am a firm believer that i am well aware of my own real interest and that only people with narrow and mental illness have a problem finding out what their real interest are. It may be complex than that but thats what i feel.

 
At 9:19 PM, Blogger ken zhang said...

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At 9:27 PM, Blogger ken zhang said...

Question 2
Luke suggests that individuals may actively support their own oppression due to ideational factors such as the impact of ideological and psychological factors on one's decision-making ability. If someone manages to convince me that my subjugation to his authority is in my interest, then I am essentially being oppressed at my own will. This raises issues for the methodological measurement of power as proposed by people like Dahl, who assumes that when people make decisions, they are making decisions in their own interest.

 
At 8:02 PM, Blogger raheem said...

Describing the 3rd face of power. People choose there own oppression over freedom. Many people may view it to be wrong, but we do it anyway. Lukes believes that a person will particapate there own oppressions if acted in there own interest.

 
At 10:51 PM, Blogger Lauren Stevenson said...

To decipher between real interests and percieved interests, one cannot simply ask a person in order to determine their real interest. You cannot ask someone what their real interests are because there are so many factors, such as societal influence, influence from other people, etc. that will hinder a person from being able to determine their real interest, Many people are clueless as to what is their real interest, but rather what they percieve as being their real interest is usually a desired interest or an interest they think is best, but in fact is not. People are easily influenced and can be swayed to think one thing is correct for them, but in reality it is not.

 
At 5:40 PM, Blogger mari bolster said...

I think that Luke's third face of power is pretty similar to Foucault's view of power. Lukes taps into the subtle, influential, manipulative forms of power that have been constructed throughout society, both from above (those in positions of authority) and below (individuals within the society). He goes beyond action and non-action/non-decisions in an attempt to try to explain the different forms that power takes in different circumstances with different people. This is like Foucault's claim that power is multi-dimensional, changing from moment to moment within the innumerable forms of power relations. However, Foucault does go further than Lukes, for example removing agency, but they still share similar viewpoints regarding power.

 

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