Different sociological theories advance different arguments about the way in which particular forms of social power (political, economic, cultural & technological), shape distinctive characteristics of modern societies and the consequent changes in previous forms of such power. Debates about power necessarily involve different understandings of both the nature of social reality (ontology), and how we best go about acquiring knowledge of that reality (epistemology). An important issue in this debate is the location of social power. Is social power to be found in different institutional locations such as the economy (economic power) or the state (political power), or rather power is to be found everywhere in society, from face to face encounters, to large-scale networks shaping the actions of large numbers of individuals without their being aware of it?
The statement holding that “in all societies power is ultimately economic power” is arguable, and depending on what theoretical perspective we choose to stand on, it can be supported or strongly rejected. Under a Marxist perspective, for example, power is above all, economic power.The power over others applied by those who own or control the means of production, as a consequence of the process of capitalist development. The Marxist political economy (scientific Marxism) accounts for power as fundamentally deriving from the capitalist system, and therefore, all questions regarding how plural, diverse societies produce conflict and seek ways to coexist together are transformed into questions about economic relations. Moreover, under this approach, states do not have power of their own but express more fundamental interests under the control of ruling classes. In the Communist Manifesto, Marx proposes that “the executive of the modern state is but a committee for managing the affairs of the burgeoisie”. That is, political power is reduced to requirements of capitalist stability and class domination. Therefore, all...
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