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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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Collective Action and Dimensions of Power

Collective Action and Dimensions of Power

(p.83) 5 Collective Action and Dimensions of Power
Rational Choice and Political Power

Keith Dowding

Policy Press

Taking the resource bargaining model of the previous chapter and applying the theory of action this chapter explodes some myths about the analysis of power. It carefully explains Steven Lukes three dimensions of power which forms the basis of much of the analysis of social power and then demonstrates Lukesaccount can be re-interpreted within the resource bargaining model. We do not need to impute several dimensions of power. By ignoring the collective action problem Lukes commits the same error that he attributes to others in their analysis of power. The chapter elucidates the political power or blame fallacy wherein one groups failure to promote their interests is explained by another’s group power over them. But groups can be powerless all on their own, and that is true even if the other groups could act to stop them. Distinguishing the capacity to act and the actual exercise of power is important if we wish to measure the power in society. We have to model capacities since they are not always revealed through action. It discusses the important work of John Gaventa and how his findings can be interpreted through the resource-bargaining model. It then applies the analysis to local government in the local state autonomy and the growth machine model.

Keywords:   three dimensions of power, collective action problem, blame fallacy, luck

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