Sociological Approaches to Power and Decisions

  • Roger King


This chapter examines differing concepts of power presented by sociologists and political scientists in recent accounts of political processes. Consequently we will be less concerned with terminological definitions of power and associated concepts, such as authority, influence, force, coercion and the like than with exploring the different philosophies or values—ways of seeing the world-that underpin various approaches for understanding political decision making. As we will see, this is no easy task, for social scientists are considerably at odds as to how to go about assessing power. Many share Steven Lukes’s view (1974) that the concept of power itself is an 4 “essentially contested concept” that rules out a universally accepted agreement because different conceptions of power are tied to quite fundamental differences of values. Nonetheless, it is possible to identify three or four major approaches for studying power that elucidate the primary methodological issues involved.


Political Participation Policy Preference Relative Autonomy Sociological Approach Community Power 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1985

Authors and Affiliations

  • Roger King
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Behavioural SciencesHuddersfield PolytechnicHuddersfield, West YorkshireEngland

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