Open any book on Politics and we do not have to turn too many pages before seeing the concept of power discussed. Indeed, the pursuit and exercise of power is traditionally presented as the very cut and thrust of both domestic and international politics, and theorists go to great lengths to conceptualize and contextualize this power. Politicians go into politics to be able to exercise ‘power’ in order to achieve their personal and party political objectives; electorates may be said to exercise power when they choose who governs them. Power can also be exercised in the suppression or expression of a particular political debate or issue. Power might be the property of individuals, or might be located within systems. Power may be a ‘thing’ or it may be a process. So what do we really understand by the concept of power? In seeking to do political analysis for ourselves how should we approach the subject of power? There will certainly be questions that need addressing such as: what is power? Who has it? Where is it located? How is it exercised? In whose interest does it operate? The ontological and epistemological approaches we adopt will also largely determine how we explore ‘power’.
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