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Haugaard, M
European Journal Of Cultural Studies
Power: A 'family resemblance' concept
WOS: 42 ()
Optional Fields
While Lukes' view of power as an 'essentially contested concept' is a move in the right direction, it does not go far enough because it falls short of arguing for a plural view of power. Power constitutes a 'family resemblance concept', with family members forming complex relationships within overlapping language games. Members include, among others: episodic power, dispositional power, systemic power, power to, power over, empowerment, legitimate power and domination. This argument does not entail relativism or that 'anything goes', as all usages have to be justified as 'conceptual tools', whereby pragmatic criteria of usefulness, rather than essence, define better or worse usage. When moving language games, the relationship between signifier and referent changes, which leads to confusion, unless the family resemblance nature of power is understood. In the literature, the most significant confusion has taken place between sociological analytic and normative political theory language games.
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