Publication details

Agency Troubles : a Review of Isaac Reed’s Power in Modernity : Agency Relations and the Creative Destruction of the King’s Two Bodies (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2020)

Authors

BINDER Werner

Year of publication 2022
Type Article in Periodical
Magazine / Source International Journal of Politics, Culture, and Society
MU Faculty or unit

Faculty of Social Studies

Citation
Web https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10767-021-09395-7
Doi http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10767-021-09395-7
Keywords Power; Domination; Delegation; Weber; Hegel; Populism; Conspiracy Theories; Political Scandal
Description Power in Modernity can be read in many ways, as application and extension of Reed’s methodological book on interpretation, as elaboration and demonstration of a novel theory of power, and finally, as reflection on modernity through the lenses of shifting imaginations of power. Reed’s new book consists of three parts: the first, theoretical, section develops a theory of agency relations and power; the second, empirical, section uses the theoretical apparatus to illuminate several case studies of power in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, mainly in North America but also in England and France; and the third, concluding, section engages in a metatheoretical discussion of (power in) modernity. There is much to discuss about Power in Modernity, depending on one’s interests. In the following, I will first discuss Power in Modernity as a Weberian theory of power as delegation, which is embedded in a culturally sensitive framework. Afterwards, I will address the Hegelian social theory underlying the argument of the book and raise the question: With what should we replace Hegel’s concept of the spirit? Finally, I will offer a reading of Power in Modernity as a historical sociology of the present, discussing populism, conspiracy theories, and political scandals as contemporary phenomena to which Reed’s theory could be applied.

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