A critical analysis of the concept of power: An interactionist revelation of its moral nature*

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Marvin L. Cooke


*Originally printed in Free Inquiry in Creative Sociology 1990 18(2).

It is argued that power is best understood as a moral category rather than as a causal category for purposes of social analysis. Since the exercise of power
implies the violation of preferences, it is a moral problem which requires the
identification of a responsible party for remedy. If a social analysis does not
make responsible actors and relevant moralities manifest, the analysis
emasculates the fundamental moral resources available to the party over
whom power is exercised. Concepts of power involving closed, substituted,
simultaneous, and negotiated moral universes are examined from this

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