lukes' dimensions of power

i’ve been meaning to write about this for a long time, but i have put it off because i still don’t totally know what i want to say about it. for now, i guess i’ll just restate the theory and then go from there…

my friend nene introduced me to this theory during our thesis writing group. steven lukes, a political and social theorist, has an academic framework called the three faces of power. you can obvi read about it on wikipedia and in more detail in other places like his book, but here’s how i remember nene explaining it to me.

first is decision-making power. it’s the most obvious and most often discussed form of power. it’s basically about policy and it actually the weakest (surprising to most people).

second is agenda-setting power. agenda-setting power is what determines what issues are possible to even be discussed. for example, the fact that communism is effectively off the table in american politics is a result of agenda setting power. if you wanted to have a national public conversation about the merits of communism, you likely wouldn’t be taken seriously because it has been deemed to be unacceptable to even discuss.

third is ideological power. this is the power to shape people’s ideas, thoughts, and desires. it is this type of power that allows one group to want something that may be against their own interest. this is the type of power at play when people are convinced to vote against their own class interests in favor of their racial interests. it’s also the power that encourages people of all genders to uphold (intentionally or unintentionally) sexist, patriarchial, transphobic societal norms.

the reason i think the theory is called the dimensions of power is because you can parallel them to 1, 2, and 3-d ways of being in the world. and if i think in video game parallels, obviously the old days of the 1- and 2-d sidescroller were great, but they’re over. it’s time to graduate…

anyway, i’m out of time. as joanne says… let’s chat later.

writing: 11:37 spell-check, link-finding, & formatting: 6:26