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The Meta-Power Paradigm

Impacts and Transformations of Agents, Institutions, and Social Systems-- Capitalism, State, and Democracy in a Global Context

Edited By Tom R. Burns and Peter M. Hall

This work presents, elaborates, and illustrates what is arguably the most important concept in the social sciences: power. It focuses particularly on a major class of power phenomena, meta-power, that is, power over power, transformative and structuring power. This encompasses powers to establish, reform, and transform social systems (institutions, power hierarchies, cultural formations, and socio-technical and infrastructural systems). Understanding meta-power is essential to the effective analysis of the formation of societal structures, their dynamics and evolution. This collection presents numerous illustrations and case studies at local, meso, and macro levels, showing how meta-powering is mobilized and operates in different contexts. The book should be of particular interest to business and management researchers, anthropologists, historians, legal scholars, political scientists, and, of course, sociologists.


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5 F O R E W O R D This project arose from a several meetings where we decided to collaborate in pro- ducing a work on meta-power. Nora Machado was involved in a couple of these meetings and very much encouraged us to move ahead in what became a stimulating and substantial learning experience. Peter Hall, for his part, dedicates his contributions to his former colleagues at the University of Missouri, the late and beloved Jim McCartney, dialectical dialoguer Ken Benson, and critical encourager Mary Jo Neitz. They sustained him personally and supported his scholarship for many years. No scholarship is individual or independent. It always involves predecessors and contemporaries. Pat McGinty in multiple ways made major contributions to the de- velopment of meso-domain analysis, policy process, and meta-power line of thought. Kevin McElmurry created a provocative doctoral dissertation that implicit- ly demanded a meta-power analysis. He readily agreed to that transformation and contributed significantly to its completion. The evolving body of interactionist thought provided supportive arguments for attention to meta-power. Hall acknowl- edges the valuable contributions of the late Anselm Strauss, David Maines, David Altheide, and Adele Clarke. During the period of bringing this book to completion, Peter Hall became ill and was unable to finish his part of the collaboration. Tom Burns and Nora Machado assumed greater responsibility for the work. Hall is thankful for their admirable ef- forts. The Swedish Power Investigation on Structural Discrimination (2004-2006) (un- der the Swedish Ministry of Justice) financed some of...

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