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March 1998

"Power": What Is It? How Does It Work?: Agathon's Dinner Party Weblogging

Power: What Is It? How Does It Work?:


Brad De Long wrote:

[Stuff falsely and sillily claiming that he is distressed at his failure to win the 1998 Bad Writing Contest]

P.S.: Anyone care to try to translate [Judith] Butler's [1998 Bad Writing Contest] award-winning paragraph into reasonably idiomatic English?

ZZZ wrote:


The move from a structuralist account in which capital is understood to structure social relations in relatively homologous ways to a view of hegemony in which power relations are subject to repetition, convergence, and rearticulation brought the question of temporality into the thinking of structure, and marked a shift from a form of Althusserian theory that takes structural totalities as theoretical objects to one in which the insights into the contingent possibility of structure inaugurate a renewed conception of hegemony as bound up with the contingent sites and strategies of the rearticulation of power.

"An older view, associated with structuralism, which held that capital shaped social life in a unitary and timeless way, has given way to a new view of power, as something dispersed, changeable, rand requiring constant reinforcement and reassertion."

Brad DeLong writes:

A reasonable try, but what did you do with [various words]? ...And then there are the deeper problems with the paragraph: power that is dispersed and contingent ain't hegemony, and so forth...

QQQ wrote:

Well that's the point here, it can be: if power is in our heads, if power forms our subjectivities, then it is dispersed in billions of us, in trillions of daily contacts. This obviously comes out of Foucault, who can be criticized for his excessively atomized view of power, but it's a useful contrast to all those classically Marxian views of power, which find the entire capitalist structure in every grain of sand. But we're probably boring all the dismal scientists to death...

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