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Approaches Sociology Power Notes

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Approaches Revision Notes: SOCIOLOGY: Power:

1. Historiography:
- From the '60s onwards, historians tried to give the weak a voice. Saw power as something domineering.E.g. Michael Mann (1986) speaking of 'despotic power'.
- James C Scott:Talks of a "hidden transcript"."Powerless groups have... a self interest in conspiring to reinforce hegemonic appearances".
- Allows ideologies to grow.Book came from study of Malay village - accounts of transactions often contradictory.Scott himself then noticed how he used diff lang for diff people, then usually told someone after about the unspoken thoughts.
- Occasionally, HT reveals itself in "rare moments of political electricity".
- "[the weak] manage in a thousand artful ways to imply that they are grudging conscripts to the performance".
- Wrote 'Weapons of the Weak' on effectiveness of foot-dragging, sabotage etc.
- Attacked (e.g. by Tilly) for not addressing complexities within HTs.
- Also for not allowing more continuity between the transcripts (as Erving Goffman does).
- Charles Tilly:
- Also believes there are many probs with 'top-down' approach.
- Has several reasons for why subordinates comply:
- 1. They are actually subtly rebelling.
- 2. They get something in return for subordination.
- 3. They get wrapped up in these systems whilst pursuing something else e.g. identity.
- 4. They are unaware of their true interests.
- 5. Force holds them in place.
- 6. They lack funding.
- 7. A combination.Complexity of issue: "were we searching for a chimera?"Gerth & Mills:Focus on charismatic leadership: "The 'natural' leaders...
have been holders of specific gifts of the body and spirit".E.g. Irish Cuchulain, Homeric Achilles.Foucault:

-Focuses on the mind & the way that psychological structures have impacted society.Looked at increase in state power in France in the 1960s (e.g. after General Strike of 1968).Was aware of the way that certain aspects of human life, like sexuality, could disrupt power structures.Talks of "perpetual spirals of power and pleasure". Weber:Charismatic authority idea.Supported by I Kershaw - Hitler.Marxist-Leninists did not really agree on role of personality. E.g. thought Hitler's rise due to backing of business leaders.

2. How do sociological models of power help historians? [For studying bureaucracies?] [For studying marginal groups?]
- Can help to understand why marginal groups stay marginal.
- Help to unpick popular culture - jokes etc.
- Explain roots of events like Revolutions.E.g. after Orwell's stint in Moulmein, a Buddhist monk led an anti-colonial rebellion, which was violently crushed. Orwell had spoken of how 'the greatest joy in the world would be to drive a bayonet into a Buddhist priest's guts'Scott's account = good for being "exquisitely sensitive" (Tilly).Can draw attention to previously unexplored areas, e.g. psychology (Foucault), language (Scott).Can highlight questions about why things changed.E.g. Foucault's focus on sex highlights how authorities "perceived that they were...dealing...with a 'population'" (Foucault) in C18th.

3. What are the limits of sociological approaches to power?
- Do not always address unique situations of individuals.
- Do not always address variety in power structures - class, status, gender and age are all separate.Main pt of Braddick & Walter: "in reality, there were crowds, not one crowd".Do not always address variety place-to-place.E.g. wars and disunity in Germany ? a "heroicisation of politics" (Kershaw).Do not all address each type of power relation - political leader; one group over another (gender, religious, national); social class over another; individuals over each other.

4. Is power always a top-down phenomenon?

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