Power in Transition: An Interdisciplinary Framework to Study Power in Relation to Structural Change
European Journal of Social Theory , Volume 12 - Issue 4 p. 543- 569
This article conceptualizes power in the context of long-term process of structural change. First, it discusses the field of transition studies, which deals with processes of structural change in societal systems on the basis of certain presumptions about power relations, but still lacks an explicit conceptualization of power. Then the article discusses some prevailing points of contestation in debates on power. It is argued that for the context of transition studies, it is necessary to develop an interdisciplinary framework in which power is explicitly conceptualized in relation to change. Subsequently, such a framework is presented, with reference to existing literature on power. Starting with a philosophical and operational definition of power, a typology is developed of the different ways in which power can be exercised, explicitly including innovative power and transformative power. Finally, the presented power framework is applied to transition studies, redefining pivotal transition concepts in terms of power and formulating hypotheses on the role of power in transitions. By doing so, the article not only offers an interdisciplinary framework to study power in the context of transition studies, but also contributes to power debates more generally by including innovation and transformation as acts of power, and thereby proposes a re-conceptualization of the relation between power and structural change.