• Geoffrey Debnam


Any criticism that might be made of the community power literature1 must be countered by praise for the pioneering contribution of researchers such as Hunter, Dahl, Agger, Goldrich and Swanson, and Presthus. Lukes is no pioneer, but his brief exposition of the issues involved both revived and dramatised an otherwise flagging argument. The debate has its critics, but it is an important debate, and one that political scientists, at least, cannot afford to ignore. One point made clear by Lukes is that approaches to power typically carry an ideological commitment,2 and that the radical is apt to make claims about the operation of power that are hardest to answer.


Core Element Power Study Slum Dweller Community Power Ideological Commitment 
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  1. 3.
    The phrase refers to Bachrach and Baratz and was coined by Richard Merelman, ‘On the neo-elitist critique of community power’, American Political Science Review, 62 (1968) pp. 451–60.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 4.
    S. F. Nadel, The Theory of Social Structure (Melbourne: Melbourne University Press, 1957) p. 154.Google Scholar
  3. 5.
    Albert Weale, ‘Power inequalities’, Theory and Decision, 7 (1976) pp. 297–313, at p. 299.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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    Peter Abell, ‘The many faces of power and liberty: revealed preference, autonomy and teleological explanation’, Sociology, 11 (1977) pp. 3–24, at pp. 4–5.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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    Georg Simmel, The Sociology of Georg Simmel, trans, ed. and with an intro. by Kurt H. Wolff (New York: The Free Press; and London: Collier-Macmillan, 1950) p. 123.Google Scholar
  6. 8.
    Poverty’ hovers as a central undefined outcome that preoccupies Hunter yet he does not come to grips with it. That the problem of doing so would be considerable is demonstrated by Peter Townsend, Poverty in the U.K. (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1980).Google Scholar
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    Geraint Parry, Political Elites (London: George Allen & Unwin, 1969) p. 118.Google Scholar
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    Robert E. Agger, Daniel Goldrich and Bert E. Swanson, The Rulers and the Ruled: Political Power and Impotence in American Communities (New York: Oxford University Press, 1964) pp. 73–8.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Geoffrey Debnam 1984

Authors and Affiliations

  • Geoffrey Debnam
    • 1
  1. 1.Victoria University of WellingtonNew Zealand

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