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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

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 11: Tom Baumgartner, Tom R. Burns, and Philippe DeVille: The Lip Factory Conflict: Meta-Power and Game Transformation – Lessons in Conflict Development and Conflict Resolution

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405 C H A P T E R 1 1 The Lip Factory Conflict: Meta-Power and Game Transformation – Lessons in Conflict Development and Conflict Resolution 1* Tom Baumgartner, Tom R. Burns, and Philippe DeVille Lip is the most disturbing social conflict . . . because the continued social production after a robbery, in essence, of the stockholders, calls into question the principle of authority, of property, of responsibility, of respect for contracts vis-à-vis suppliers and subcontractors, which are at the very base of our economic system and commercial law. Chamber of Commerce, Paris, 1974 The Lip factory conflict (1971-74) in Besançon (France) illustrates our approach to the application of meta-power and relational control concepts in the dynamic analy- sis of the structuring and restructuring of social relationships. What appeared initial- ly to be a management-labor conflict escalated into system shift issues and attempts to mobilize meta-power. Eventual state intervention in the Lip factory conflict op- erated both to create conditions conducive to the settlement of certain conflicts (between management and the established labor unions) and to create or exacer- bate others (between the labor unions and the “counter-institution” of the workers, the Action Committee). * We are grateful to the following persons for their helpful suggestions and criticisms on earlier versions of the paper or parts of it: Bill Behn, Martin Carnoy, Trygve Gulbrandsen, Mark Hoel, Tord Hoivik, Helge Hveem, Björn Hvinden, Louis Kriesberg, Marc Lagneau, Benoit Millot, Bruce Roberts, John Shippee, and Bjorg Aase Sôrensen. 1 In this context...

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