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Power A Concept for Information and Communication Sciences von Dupont, Olivier (eBook)

  • Erscheinungsdatum: 15.04.2019
  • Verlag: Wiley-ISTE
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A polymorphous concept, power has imposed itself since ancient times. Whether it characterizes the phenomena of domination, exclusion or voluntary submission, it illuminates social relations and, since the 20th Century, interpersonal relations. This book offers, first of all, a daring panorama through its intertwining of different theoretical propositions relating to power, across time and across disciplines. It then presents the work of researchers in information and communication sciences who draw from these proposals the materials allowing them to develop their own analyses. These analyses revisit discursive power with respect to contemporary formations of communication and information. They investigate digital technologies by problematizing the phenomena of influence, control and access to knowledge. Finally, they reflect on the media in the light of inherent powers of social mediation, advertising and journalism. Olivier Dupont is a senior lecturer in information and communication sciences at Lyon 3 University, France. His contributions to his field of study include teachings on its theoretical foundations and various works of research on enunciation and discourse in the professional sphere.


    Format: ePUB
    Kopierschutz: AdobeDRM
    Erscheinungsdatum: 15.04.2019
    Sprache: Englisch
    ISBN: 9781119610403
    Verlag: Wiley-ISTE
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Subjective and Intersubjective Power

In this chapter we propose to examine what analyses of subjective and intersubjective power have in common. It is first and foremost a question of scale. In effect, whether one considers actors, agents, or subjects, one is taking a microsocial, microeconomic, or microrelational approach. This relates to a strong tendency among contemporary theories of power (Russ, 1994, p. 55), a good number of which focus on the study of power relations between individuals. As shown by Jean-Cassien Billier (2000, p. 23), possible definitions of power are implicitly linked to the theories that support or implicate them. The paradigmatic framework of intersubjective power is in keeping with the idea that power is diffused through all of society and not, for example, reserved for the elite. We find economists such as John Galbraith, organizational sociologists like Friedberg and Crozier, or philosophers such as Michel Foucault developing analyses belonging to this framework. It would nevertheless be an error to reduce their thought to its interactionist aspects alone. Whether we consider Michel Foucault and his analysis of the role of norms in the creation of a punitive society or Hannah Arendt and her understanding of power as a result of human socialization, the collective and social dimension is not excluded from analyses concerned with the operation of intersubjective power.
2.1. The concept of relational power, a concept of subject or subjects?

The first use of the concept of power to analyze relationships between individuals took place in the 1960s. One of the definitions considered as classic is the one formulated by Robert Dahl (1957, p. 203) who described power as the relationship between individuals where "A has power over B to the extent that he can get B to do something that B would not otherwise do". This definition was then adopted by Michel Crozier who became interested in the early 1960s in power relationships in organizations and who connected them, as we will see later, to the control of zones of uncertainty 1 . In the work he published in 1981 with Erhard Friedberg, entitled Actor and Systems , the two authors highlighted the opportunistic nature of human strategies and the irreducible part of freedom that exists in every power relation. "Power is a relation of strength, in which one can take advantage of another, but where, equally, one is never completely helpless against the other" (Crozier and Friedberg, 1981).

But the author who most fully developed a concept that facilitates intersubjective and interactionist analyses and made it available it to researchers in diverse disciplines, albeit without engaging in such analyses himself, is indisputably Michel Foucault.

Foucault explained the relational nature of power through an exploration of its definition 2 . The flow of power structures the components of a social body that is not situated in a specific location such as a parliament or a board of directors. It is exercised in "local sites": relations between employee and employer, lover and mistress, child and teacher, patient and doctor, between guard and prisoner, etc. In fact, this approach is fundamentally reticular, inasmuch as there exists no center or identifiable and legitimate source of power. His concern is of course to call into question analyses of public power and of the distribution of power between forms and social structures (the State, corporations, religious institutions, etc.) Nevertheless, contrary to other points of view that we will present in this section, it cannot be completely considered as intersubjective, and we will have to instead consider it as relational.

In effect, for Foucault, the paradox of the exercise of power in interactions is that it does not involve subjects who precede power relations and are endowed with

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