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Power inequalities

Weale, A; (1976) Power inequalities. Theory and Decision , 7 (4) 297 - 313. 10.1007/BF00135083.

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Abstract

This paper aims to give determinate sense to the claim that there are inequalities of power by outlining a procedure in terms of which individual acts of power can be measured. Noting that problems in the definition and measurement of power are closely related, the paper criticizes one analysis of power which defines the notion in purely causal terms. It argues that such a definition inevitably leads to difficulties in quantifying power, and is in any case deficient. Power is instead defined by reference to the notion of coercion, where this idea is itself explicated in terms of threats. A measure of power is developed from this definition, so that power is quantified by the degree of deprivation that one person can impose upon another. The paper concludes by noting that an adequate measure of power at the social level depends upon inter-personal welfare comparisons, but that this does not mean that the idea of power inequalities cannot be given determinate sense. © 1976 D. Reidel Publishing Company.

Type:Article
Title:Power inequalities
DOI:10.1007/BF00135083
UCL classification:UCL > School of Arts and Social Sciences > Faculty of Social and Historical Sciences > Political Science

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