This article identifies and evaluates the main trends and issues in the conceptual analysis of power, their dynamics, and current status. There are several interrelated basic trends in the conceptual analysis of power in the last decades: conceptual solutions have become more flexible; multidimensional view; synthesis of different approaches; expansion of the concept; blurring the borders between power and non-power. These trends require taking into account a significantly larger amount of empirical data and paying special attention to those forms of social interaction that are hidden from external observation. Expansion of the range of power forms increases the difficulties of their systematization, while interpretation and comparison of the outcomes of empirical studies have become more complicated.
This is a book review. "The invisible hand of power" by Anton Oleinik (professor of Memorial University, Canada) focuses on gatekeeping as a form and technique of power. Gatekeeping takes place in cases of structural disparities beneficial for the power holder; it is a vary effective technique for imposing will in different kinds of social intaraction. The analysis of gatekeeping in the review covers theoretical bases of the concept and several cases of gatekeeping including practices of access control in the regional markets in Russia and gatekeeping in peer review. Although the author of the review points to some problems in the the explanation and application of the concept of power in the reviewed book he concludes that the book makes a substantial contribution about power and its visible and invisible forms.
This article presents the outcomes of a research project conducted in two small towns in the Perm region. The study of power in the two communities focused on two major themes: (1) the composition of influential actors and institutions and the power hierarchy; (2) relationships between them and coalition building. The discovered configuration of actors and relationships between them demonstrate, on the one hand, quite a lot in common with European and North American communities, on the other hand, a number of features that reflect the systemic and institutional properties of Russian politics and society. The social base of the local power structure is very narrow. The local elite composed of the heads of the executive, business leaders, and the most influential representatives of urban and district legislatures actually holds all the power in local community, having no serious opponents or a real alternative in the foreseeable future. This power structure is supported by informal institutions and personal relationships within the elite and between the elite and those who are forced to accept the existing system of relations; it allows them to successfully protect their personal and/or corporate interests. A wide range of opportunities to use official position and/or relationships with the public officials for personal enrichment stimulates the formation of various kinds of coalitions for the furtherment of personal interests of its members.