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Rational Choice and Political Power$
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Keith Dowding

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9781529206333

Published to Policy Press Scholarship Online: January 2020

DOI: 10.1332/policypress/9781529206333.001.0001

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(p.3) 1 Introduction
Rational Choice and Political Power

Keith Dowding

Policy Press

Chapter 1 introduces the subject matter of the book. It analyses the methodological issues that arise when conceptualizing power in society. It first looks at the definitional divisions that demarcate different approaches to power. The first division describes causal approaches to power and dispositional accounts of power. It argues that power is a disposition concept – power is best seen as a property of individuals that they can choose or not to wield. The second division concerns structural versus individualist accounts. The chapters argues we need to transcend this division. Whilst in this book power is seen as a dispositional property of agents, and can thus be seen as methodologically individualist, it is equally a structural account. A structure is the relationship between people which can be described in terms of their relative powers. We concentrate on actors for some questions and the structure for others.

Keywords:   causal and dispositional accounts of power, methodological individualism, structuralism, holism

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