• Summary
  • Contents
  • Subject index

“When it comes to ‘power’, it can often feel as if everyone is talking about it, yet no one appears to have given it any thought. Well, not quite. In this original and timely book, Mitchell Dean provides a characteristically thoughtful and incisive analysis that aims to renovate the concept of power through an understanding of its signature and how it works. Through a thorough and intelligent engagement with the work of Foucault, Schmitt, and Agamben, their lacuna and failings, Dean pieces together a clear and precise account of sovereignty, governmentality, and bio-politics, which has much to commend it.”

- Paul Du Gay, Copenhagen Business School

“Dean's erudite and relentlessly critical reading of Foucault, Schmitt and Agamben extracts from these authors new insights about the signature of power … Immensely valuable and a major contribution to social and political thought.”

- William Walters, Carleton University

Mitchell Dean revitalized the study of ‘governmentality’ with his bestselling book of the same title. His new book on power is a landmark work.

It combines an extraordinary breadth of perspective with pinpoint accuracy about what power means for us today. For students it provides sharp readings of the main approaches in the field. On this level, it operates as a foundational work in the study of power. It builds on this to reframe the concept of power, offering original and exceptionally fruitful reading. It throws new light onto the importance of biopolitics, sovereignty and governmentality.

Mitchell Dean has established himself as a master of governmentality. This new book will do the same for how we conceptualize and use power.

Mitchell Dean is Professor of Public Governance at Copenhagen Business School, Denmark and Professor of Sociology at the University of Newcastle, Australia.

Introducing the Signature of Power
Introducing the signature of power

1.1 The concept of power has long been central not only to the social and political sciences but also in everyday language and discussion. We often assume that we know what we mean when we use the term and that it helps us describe the world in which we live. Yet, today there are some influential thinkers who will claim that ‘power’ cannot explain anything and that therefore it is a relatively useless concept. In doing so, they reject a longstanding reason for the study of power: to offer a critique of society, its institutions and practices and even its ways of reasoning and forms of knowledge. Explicitly or implicitly, such critique implies that there are ...

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