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Conceptualizing power in the context of climate change: A multi-theoretical perspective on structure, agency & power relations

Lorenz Stör

No 5/2017, VÖÖ Discussion Papers from Vereinigung für Ökologische Ökonomie e.V. (VÖÖ)

Abstract: The predominantly positivist approach in economics towards the object of study is not able to grasp power and domination in its complex interaction of agency and structure. Also in ecological economics and its critique to economic growth, there is a lack of conceptualizations that are sensible to questions of power. The work reveals such deficits and offers a comprehensive theory overview. This overview is then contextualized along the political-economic facets of climate change. The introductory chapter discusses fundamental aspects of power in the context of structure and agency. The common positivist approach in economics is complemented by a post-positivist approach in the following chapter. Critical realism serves as a philosophy of science to acknowledge and integrate structure and agency as forms of power. The third chapter provides an historical overview of selected theories of power. It depicts how the strategic and the episodic understanding of power by Machiavelli and Hobbes respectively, informed later power theories. Theorists such as Dahl, Bachrach & Baratz, Lukes, Gramsci, Laclau & Mouffe, Giddens, Foucault and Clegg are discussed. The aim is to highlight the relevance for a multiplicity of power concepts in economic research. The following chapter puts in context their respective positions on human agency and social structures as the source of power. The fifth chapter initiates an outlook for potential power research on future global challenges. The powers that play a role in the quest for solutions on the issue of climate change are systematically separated in the multiple levels of agency, mechanisms and structure. This serves as an exemplary case to depict the complexity but relevance of power on objects of research in ecological economics.

Keywords: Power; Structure; Agency; Climate Change; Hegemony; Structuration theory; Machiavelli; Hobbes; Dahl; Lukes; Gramsci; Giddens; Foucault; Hay; Jessop; Macht; Struktur; Handlung; Klimawandel; Hegemonie; Strukturationstheorie (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2017
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-env, nep-hme, nep-hpe and nep-pke
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