Introduction: Why power is the central concept of the social sciences

Publisher:
Sage Publications
Publication Type:
Chapter
Citation:
The SAGE Handbook of Power, 2009, 1, pp. 1 - 24
Issue Date:
2009-01
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The concept of power is absolu0ely central to any understanding of society' The ubiquity of the concept can be seen by a comparative Google search. The score for 'social power' is 376 million hits, for 'political power' 194 million which compares with 334 million for .society', 253 million for 'politics', 52 million for 'sociology', 'social class'at 280 million and .political class' at 111 million. Of course, such measures are crude but the fact that the combined 470 million social and political power hits outstrip any of the other categories, including the combined hits for 'social' and 'political class', indicales the absolute centrality of theconcept. However, despitethis ubiquity itis arguably oneof themostdifficultconcepts to make sense of within the social sciences. Nonetheless, it has been a core concept for as long as there has been speculation about the nature of social order (Wolin 1960)'
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