JOPP CoverSince Aristotle's classification of political systems, power has been one of the most central and debated themes of the social sciences. Yet, despite its centrality, there has been little consensus on what constitutes the essence of power. It is part of the raison d'etre of the Journal of Power to capitalize on the consequent debates surrounding power. In political science, there have been continual debates from Dahl to Lukes and, recently, between followers of Foucauldian perspectives and more modernist view points. These have centred on the contrast between power in terms of agency and the way in which social consciousness create conditions of possibility for action or differential capacities. If we move into a cognate discipline, such as International Relations, we find that the area is divided between those who consider power purely in terms of material resources and those who argue that it is defined by ideas and perceptions – so-called ‘realists’ and ‘idealists’ A similar division is found in political – sociology, where some focus upon power in terms of legitimacy and authority while other, more 'hard-headed' theorists view it Machivallian terms of war and deceit. In political philosophy, the key division lies between those who consider power as defined by its exercise, its effects, intentions, and potentialities. In rational choice theory power is divided between those who view it positionally, almost as a kind of luck, and those who see it as episodic. In anthropology, in contrast to all the above, power is theorized in terms of rituals and ceremony. In sociology, there is a clear division between those influenced by Marxism, who define power in terms of class or economy, and the followers of the tradition of Weber, who consider power as linked to authority and domination. In feminist literature, the debate is dominated by the intricacies of the division between social constructivist accounts of gender and those who emphasize violence and material resources.

Running through all these debates is the fundamental contrast between those who view power negatively, as domination, and those who think of it positively, as an essential ingredient of autonomy and empowerment. In short, some of the key debates within the social sciences are centred on the theme of power and it is intended that this journal should reflect this.

Aside from theoretical debates, the Journal of Power is a primary outlet for those doing empirical work on relations of power and powerlessness. For instance, the Journal welcomes empirical analysis of the process whereby globalization, ethnicity, nationalism, war and gender are central to the constitution of power, whether conceptualised as domination or empowerment.
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