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Open University Press, 1996 - Power (Social sciences) - 102 pages
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* What is the nature of power in society and how can we study it?

* How do some lose and others benefit from the distribution of power?

* Why do some groups always seem to be at an advantage in disputes?

Power provides a refreshing introduction to the concept and study of political power that overcomes many of the old disputes over the nature and structure of power in society. Making the important distinction between power and luck, Dowding develops the concept of systematic luck and explains how some groups get what they want without trying, while the efforts of others bring little reward.

The "who benefits?" test cannot reveal who has power, for many benefit through luck and some are systematically lucky. Using simple non-cooperative game theory, Dowding demonstrates that some groups are disadvantaged because of the way society is structured. The fact that one group lacks power does not necessarily mean another group is opposing them. In contrast, other groups may have power as well as luck.

The analysis is not restricted to theoretical arguments, and the relevant concepts are used to illustrate and explain the debates on power at both the national and local level. For example, Dowding illustrates how luck and power can be marshalled to underpin arguments about the "growth machine" and "regime politics". Clearly and accessibly expressed, the complete volume will be read by undergraduates and researchers alike to explain features of society that have been hotly debated for many years.

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Structure and Interests
Luck and Power
Systematic Luck

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About the author (1996)

Keith Dowding teaches at the London School of Economics. He has published widely in political theory, urban politics, British politics and public choice including books entitled Rational Choice and Political Power and The Civil Service (Routledge, 1995). He co-edited Preferences, Institutions and Rational Choice and is now co-editor of the Journal of Theoretical Politics.

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