Power: A Radical View 2nd Edition

8 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0333420928
ISBN-10: 0333420926
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Editorial Reviews


"Three decades after the publication of his classic essay on power, Lukes has pulled off one of the rarest feats in social science. He has written a new and better edition of a classic. He does this by drawing from a major critical movement he had neglected (feminism), addressing the most influential alternative new explanations of power (Foucault and James Scott), and most importantly, incorporating recent seminal arguments (especially Amartya Sen and Martha Nussbaum)." - Alfred Stepan, Wallace Sayre Professor of Government, Columbia University

"Thirty years ago, Steven Lukes stirred up an intellectual firestorm with his radical analysis of power. Now he is doing it again. Thank heaven!" - Professor Michael Walzer, Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton University

"Like the first edition, which it includes, this is a truly superb volume. It will, in thirty years' time, remain a - possibly the - classic treatment of power in the English language." -- Professor Colin Hay, University of Birmingham

"This wonderful extended version - effectively a new book - deepens and refines the conceptual, empirical and moral attributes of Power. No one concerned with politics can afford to miss this masterful clarification of power as capacity." -- Ira Katznelson, Ruggles Professor of Political Science and History, Columbia University

About the Author

Steven Lukes is Professor of Sociology at New York University.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 200 pages
  • Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan; 2nd edition (January 15, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0333420926
  • ISBN-13: 978-0333420928
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.5 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #404,609 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

55 of 56 people found the following review helpful By Humblebee on September 23, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is essential reading for those interested in the dynamics of power relations and, in particular, how power works to either enhance or undermine democratic participation in society. Over the course of the three essays that constitute the second edition of this book, Lukes develops an idea of power in three dimensions. In the first dimension, power is clearly visible in decision-making processes, where A exercises power over B when A's policy preferences, reflecting A's subjective interests, prevail over B's. Here, power is discernible only where a conflict of interests informs open debate over a public issue. This conflict gives rise to divergent policy preferences competing for public acceptance and political validation.

However, if one were to confine the study of power to its effects in the first dimension, that is, to the outcomes of decision-making processes, one misses other aspects of power detected in the biases of non-decision-making. Non-decision-making power is the power to keep certain issues off the table: it is the power to deny certain individuals or groups access to decision-making processes, and thus to prevent certain grievances from being translated into public issues. While decision-making power, as seen in the first dimension, may be widely distributed among various groups and individuals who alternately succeed in promoting their interests, there may be at the same time unity among these otherwise conflicting interests in preventing certain segments of the population from contributing to the discussion. The second dimension of power consists in this ability to control the agenda, to decide what gets decided--and what doesn't.
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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful By M. Schaeffer on April 30, 2008
Format: Paperback
This is probably the clearest social science book I have ever read.

Lukes deals with a vast topic and still manages to write a short and very precise book that gives a great overview about the standpoints in the discussion and presents an own convincing argument.

The first part of the book was situated in a specific debate and only deals with the asymmetrical exercise of power by A over B. Lukes third view on power adds that power might be exercised even in the absence of conflict. For example by shaping other peoples interests.

The next two chapters were written more recently and widen the focus to Power as a capacity and the question if power was a capacity, how can it be a meaningful and explanatory concept in the social sciences.

This book is easy to read not because it is an easy introduction to the debate. It is easy to read, because Lukes formulates his argument with huge precision.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By G Krasichynski on March 5, 2014
Format: Paperback
A short but amazing read. I must have read it 15 times by now. Of the three types of power, as this easy to read, wonderfully cogent book describes, one is different, more persuasive, more seductive, infinitely darker, and when we ask ourselves what went wrong with the world - the answers are right there, laid out for us.

While revealing and precise, academically sound and balanced, it is the simplicity with which it describes very complex dynamics and the clarity it lends to ideas that everybody should know that makes it so impressive. Each time I read it, I get a little more from it!
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Sunny on January 30, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I was assigned this text for a graduate course and it is very interesting. While it was hard to get my mind around the concepts of Lukes' views on power, once I did, I understood the material and understand why he is a leader in this field.
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