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Extra resources for Power, Inequality and Democratic Politics: Essays in Honour of Robert Dahl

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Knowing Power 37 Local Possibility Consider some very small "polity " -perhaps a rural town such as Mary Bendley's Pontego, North Carolina, or at most a small city like Dahl's New Haven. Our obj ective is to think about power relations within this small polity, which will mean that we should think about changes in the available futures of its inhabitants that would be possible through local transformations . A large and consequential portion of the regime network bearing upon life in Our Town will be fixed externally and for our purposes inert.

It is in this way a shirttail cousin to Max Weber's idea of power as the capacity to realize one's will, and again similar to the common view of power as that which lets one "have his way. "69 But it is far narrower than either, because ( 1 ) it must be power whose exercise leaves the powers of others unaffected, and, conversely, (2) it must be power whose availability to me is unaffected by the decisions of others. Whoever has such power enjoys unilateral entitlements under a given regime (although these must be of a particularly Douglas W.

29 I make no criticism whatever in pointing out that this justly famous analysis selectively places the object of power with the agendas of governmental institutions. This selection does not in actuality distinguish Dahl from those who propose a larger, "two-dimensional" treatment of power, although it does in hindsight seem to have cut Who Governs? off from many of the power-bearing realities of New Haven in the period analyzed. Jo Bachrach and Baratz: Power's Second Face Proponents of this second view claim with undoubted justice that the explicit public agenda reaching consideration by government must 26 Douglas W.

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