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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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C H A P T E R 8: Peter M. Hall in collaboration with Tom R. Burns and Nora Machado: The Cultural Domain: Extensions and Applications of Meta-power and Structural Power


259 C H A P T E R 8 The Cultural Domain: Extensions and Applications of Meta-power and Structural Power Peter M. Hall (in collaboration with Tom R. Burns and Nora Machado) Since the concept of meta-power was introduced over 35 years ago, one observes that the field of social sciences, the concept of power, and topics of scholarly inter- est have changed dramatically. In Chapters 1 and 6, we distinguished between the exercises of power to establish or change cultural forms and institutional arrange- ments, on the one hand, and the operation of structural power shaping and regulat- ing social action and interaction, on the other hand; that is, meta-power and struc- tural power, respectively, were differentiated. This is an analytic distinction, typically, they are mingled or mixed in any concrete power situation. In this chapter I will use the concept of meta-power to explore culture, commu- nication, mass media, time and space, and technology. Each of these topics has been the subject of new perspectives and analysis during the period since the introduction of the concepts of meta-power and relational control. In addition, while several of the topics to be discussed below may appear to be dissimilar, they will be connected in the manner in which, for instance, information technologies are deployed in me- diated communication across space and time using cultural content to frame, define and control situations and reality. Introduction: Culture and the Analysis of Power Culture is understood to be a complex of learned symbols,...

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