• 320 pages
  • Price: $32.95
  • EAN: 9780877229056
  • Publication: Jan 1990

The Forms of Power

From Domination to Transformation

Thomas E. Wartenberg

The concept of power has played a fundamental role in critical reflection about society. However, even the most basic questions concerning the concept of power have been subject to ongoing debate. Examining the ways in which philosophers from Plato onwards have used the concept of power, Wartenberg develops a field theory of power that rejects many of the reigning assumptions made about power. Incorporating the insights of feminist theorists, he argues that power has a positive as well as a negative role to play in social relations.

Arguing that an adequate theory of power needs to recognize a plurality of forms of power, the author uses the example of teaching to show the multiple ways in which power is a factor in social relationships. As an important corrective to the consensual and domination models, Wartenberg’s field theory gives social theorists and philosophers a more adequate tool for thinking about the nature of power.


"(This) excellent typology of forms of social power will be welcomed by all social theorists.... Feminist theorists in particular should find this book an important contribution to their thinking about how male domination is exercised even when immediate interactions between men and women appear harmonious."
Iris M.Young

"An excellent study of the many meanings of power. The study is a strong start at filling a void in contemporary social theory...."

"The theory of power that Wartenberg argues for in this book is carefully constructed, with perceptive analyses and fresh insights... Certainly the current debates will profit from the clarity of his criticisms and of his own constructive position.... a major systematic treatment that is ambitious in its scope and original in its results."
David Hoy, University of California, Santa Cruz

"This is going to be a very important book and a very successful one. It makes major contributions to the theory of power and moves the whole debate to a new level of insight and sophistication. It is extremely lucid and smooth. This book will become a central text for discussion of power for many years to come. It represents a major advance over all the previous work that I am familiar with."
Richard Schmitt, Professor of Philosophy, Brown University

About the Author(s)

Thomas E. Wartenbert is Associate Professor of Philosophy at Mount Holyoke College.