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Title: Power in political thought : a comparative conceptual morphology
Author: Potari, Despoina
ISNI:       0000 0004 7430 5114
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2017
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The aim of this thesis is to resurrect interest in the concept of power in political theory by shedding light on some of its relatively unexplored discursive dimensions and developing a fresh approach to its understanding. Particularly, it studies an under-examined theme in the current literature, which, however, forms a crucial aspect determining different definitions of power: in what manner do different ways of thinking about power underpin variable conceptual formulations and theoretical interpretations of this key political concept? What types of cognitive, ideational and conceptual 'micro-processes' shape different ways of thinking about power in political thought? The thesis suggests novel interpretative possibilities that may be distilled from developing a hermeneutical approach extending across the dimensions of historical time and disciplinary space, by combining methodological insights from the fields of morphology, intellectual history and interdisciplinary study. To that end, it engages perspectives gleaned from historical treatments of power, as well as recent understandings of spatiality and force provided by scientific discourse. The concept of power is explored through the perspectives of (i) cultural historicity and (ii) interdisciplinarity. Along the axis of cultural historicity, the analysis studies Aristotle's classical concept of 'dunamis' as the original conceptual modality of power in political thought. Along the axis of interdisciplinarity, the examination explores the concept of force in the discourse of physics, and its parallel development in political thought. This dissertation shows that the exploration of those conceptual modalities can yield a new appreciation of certain diachronic and contingent conceptual features of power and enhance our understanding of the multifaceted discursive processes through which those form, including the underpinning 'micro-semantic', linguistic and ideational processes which contribute to the emergence of variable modes of thinking about power. In so doing, the thesis aims at illuminating our modern understanding of the concept, moving the scholarly discourse forward towards new horizons of meaning and interpretation.
Supervisor: Freeden, Michael Sponsor: Propondis Foundation
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Political theory ; morphological approach ; interdiscplinary studies ; conceptual analysis ; intellectual history ; force ; physics ; interdisciplinarity ; concepts ; power ; Aristotle ; dunamis