Rethinking Power

30 Pages Posted: 22 Aug 2011

See all articles by Mark Haugaard

Mark Haugaard

National University of Ireland, Galway (NUIG)

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Date Written: August 21, 2011


In the literature, there have been two essentially contrasting views of power: one of power as domination, largely characterized as power over, and the other of power as empowerment, frequently theorized as power to. To date, the four (Lukes plus Foucault) dimensions of power have been considered forms of domination. In this article it is argued that the processes of four-dimensional power also constitute the process of normatively desirable power as emancipation. Key is the realization that structured power over has the potential to be positive-sum, rather than zero-sum; furthermore, that the exclusions of two-dimensional power also constitute the conditions of possibility for justice. The fact that normatively desirable power and domination are constituted through the same processes is not chance: the effectiveness of power as domination is parasitic upon power as emancipation.

Keywords: Power over, three dimensions of power, domination, zero-sum power, emancipation

Suggested Citation

Haugaard, Mark, Rethinking Power (August 21, 2011). Available at SSRN: or

Mark Haugaard (Contact Author)

National University of Ireland, Galway (NUIG) ( email )

University Road
Galway, Co. Kildare

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