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(2016) Handbook of contemporary sociological theory, Dordrecht, Springer.

Power in organizational society

macro, meso and micro

Yingyao Wang , Simone Polillo

pp. 43-61

This chapter discusses the sources of modern social order by dissecting the issue of power at three levels of analysis in descending order: macro, meso, and micro. While existing theories of power either treat power as a causal force originating within macro entities, or as an exercise in leveraging and positioning within micro-level social relationships, this chapter probes power dynamics at the organizational level. It first of all describes historically how organizations became the major avenue in which power is mediated and regulated in our present social world. It contends that organizational rules, routines, differentiation, and depersonalization obscure power discretions and reduce the perception of domination. Yet, the pluralistic and generative logic of power production in organizations also create unexpected opportunities of innovation and empowerment. By drawing attention to the distinctive forms and nature of power relations at this meso-level, the chapter finally extends power analysis from the macro and micro-level to analytical interactions among all three levels of analyses. Power flows both upwards and downwards, we argue, so that the interaction and conversion of different forms of power at different levels can generate new sets of emergent and interstitial structures and relations.

Publication details

DOI: 10.1007/978-3-319-32250-6_3

Full citation:

Wang, Y. , Polillo, S. (2016)., Power in organizational society: macro, meso and micro, in S. Abrutyn (ed.), Handbook of contemporary sociological theory, Dordrecht, Springer, pp. 43-61.

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