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Power, Emancipation and the Administrative State

C. F. Abel and Arthur Sementelli
Administrative Theory & Praxis
Vol. 24, No. 2 (Jun., 2002), pp. 253-278
Published by: Taylor & Francis, Ltd.
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/25611577
Page Count: 26
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Power, Emancipation and the Administrative State
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Abstract

Until recently, critical theorists have conceived of power in terms of domination. Public bureaucracies were thought to play a central role in domination as they mediated on behalf of dominant interests both by embodying and enforcing the dominant ideology, and by reinforcing society-wide practices of domination. Habermas, however, has suggested that one particular form of power, "communicative power," might be emancipatory rather than domineering in nature and that the domineering practices of public institutions might be set aright through its proper expression and exercise. This paper argues that power as first conceptualized in Veblen's evolutionary critical theory and as further explicated by Foucault, is of a still more intricate and subtle nature than suggested by Habermas. Further, it argues that as a consequence public agencies have both less potential for mediating domination and more potential for advancing emancipation than critical theorists originally thought.

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