The analysis of power rarely features in critical social and cultural analyses. What is power? Where does it come from? Who wields it? Can it be acquired? Does it always take the same form? Is it just about domination? Are there different forms of power, and if so, what might we learn about the ways in which they operate? Will an analysis of the nature of power help us to achieve greater equity and justice? And finally, what is the relationship of power to the process of design?
This is a transcript of a paper presented to the 24th Annual EDRA Conference in Chicago on March 31st, 1993. It traces the history and etymology of the philosophy of power from ancient times down to the present, noting in the process the different forms that power has taken in myriad cultural settings. It interrogates the shift in conceptions of power with the introduction of patriarchy, and charts the effect this has had on our conceptions of design - looking specifically at a postmodern conception of power in a time of Late Capitalism. This analysis is set against a background of traditional indigenous conceptions of power that have much to offer in our troubled world.
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