Three spaces of power: Territory, networks, plus a topological twist in the tale of domination and authority

Allen, John (2009). Three spaces of power: Territory, networks, plus a topological twist in the tale of domination and authority. Journal of Power, 2(2) pp. 197–212.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/17540290903064267

Abstract

In a manner analogous to Lukes' classic study of power in the early 1970s, this paper sets out three spatial vocabularies of power - territorial, networked and topological. Each spatial frame, it is suggested, has its usefulness in helping us to understand the ways in which power works itself out spatially. But, as in Lukes' study, the first two accounts of power are found wanting in certain respects; in this instance because of the limitations of the topographical framework which underpins them. In order to come to terms with the changing dynamics of a more complex, globalized world, it is argued that a topological appreciation of the workings of power is a better starting point. At a minimum, the paper sets out to show how the ability of powerful bodies to draw distant others within close reach or construct the close at hand at a distance, through relations of connection and simultaneity, opens up an understanding of power more in tune with the spatial reworkings of authority and influence today.

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