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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 12: Peter M. Hall and Patrick W. McGinty: Social Organization across Space and Time: The Policy Process, Mesodomain Analysis, and Breadth of Perspective

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421 C H A P T E R 1 2 Social Organization across Space and Time: The Policy Process, Mesodomain Analysis, and Breadth of Perspective Peter M. Hall and Patrick W. McGinty For the last several decades, interactionists have been actively engaged in clarifying the nature of social organization (a term chosen in lieu of social structure), the con- sequences of history, and matters of tine and space. Grounded in pragmatism, they have aimed at transcending dualistic thinking manifest in agency-structure and mac- ro-micro dichotomies. (Becker 1982; Couch 1984; Maines 1982; Strauss 1993). While strongly aware of contextual influences on behavior, these scholars have sim- ultaneously been committed to the equally vital rote of dialectically produced, con- stitutive social action and its consequences for social organization. These interactionists have in varying ways elaborated how context matters but have been extremely leery of conventional assumptions about social structure. While sharing the view that social life is patterned and organized, they have questioned the extent, stability, and effect of organization. They would concur that much of struc- tural existence and consequence is conventionally assumed and unevenly explored so that the more integration, boundedness, and determinism is granted man is, in fact, verified. Words like society, the state, bureaucracy, and group mask contradic- tion, complexity, ambiguity, and incompleteness. The nature and degree of social organization must be an empirical question. In addition, interactionists have disput- ed views of social organization as external and constraining, as standing above and apart from social actors. They...

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