Property and Power in Social Theory: A Study in Intellectual Rivalry

By Dick Pels | Go to book overview

6

POWER, PROPERTY, AND MANAGERIALISM

We have begun, in a word, to encounter the vocabulary of power while thinking in terms of a property frame.

Adolf Berle


FROM PROPERTY TO POWER?

Presumably, I need not further insist that the power theme is written all over the face of contemporary sociology; many sociologists take it for granted as the stuff out of which all things social are made. It has been central to the conflict paradigm of, for example, Mills, Rex, and Dahrendorf, that long-standing alternative to normative functionalism which, in the course of the 1960s and early 1970s, managed to reshuttle the basic themes of domination theory back into the sociological mainstream. It has been equally constitutive for the exchange theory of Emerson and Blau, for Bell’s, Aron’s, and Touraine’s proposals about the ‘post-industrial’ society, for the actionism of Giddens and Lukes, for the neo-Weberian ‘closure’ paradigm of Parkin and Murphy, for Luhmann’s systems theory, for the historical sociology of Elias and Mann, for Foucault’s and Donzelot’s analyses of the ‘disciplinary’ society, and more recently, for the Beck/Giddens paradigm of ‘reflexive modernization’ in late modern ‘risk societies’. Without putting too fine a point upon it, Foucault’s catholic conception of disciplinary power may well represent something like a journey’s end for sociology; it in a sense completes the secular process of generalization which has slowly transfigured the political sociology pioneered by Mosca, Pareto, Comte, and Tocqueville into the general theory of societal power advanced by their modern descendants. To some extent, Foucault also reconciles the Durkheimian or consensualist and the Weberian or conflictual strands in the theory of power. 1

It is often assumed, in this context, that the ‘crisis’ which ravaged sociology during the 1960s and early 1970s resulted in a broad pendulum swing from a ‘Durkheimian’ emphasis on value consensus and integration towards a supposedly more realistic ‘Weberian’ analytic of conflict and power. But the truth in

-164-

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Property and Power in Social Theory: A Study in Intellectual Rivalry
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Illustrations vii
  • Preface ix
  • Introduction 1
  • 1 - The Liberal Dichotomy and Its Dissolution 18
  • 2 - Inside the Diamond 47
  • 3 - Marxism Vs. Anarchism 74
  • 4 - Fascism and the Primacy of the Political 101
  • 5 - Social Science as Power Theory 126
  • 6 - Power, Property, and Managerialism 164
  • 7 - Intellectual Closure and the New Class 192
  • 8 - Towards a Theory of Intellectual Rivalry 225
  • Notes 260
  • Bibliography 287
  • Index 311
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