What forms do the operations of political power take in the contemporary state? How do they relate to, interfere with, co-operate with other social processes and institutions? How should we interpret current controversies around the roles of the market and the state in the production and distribution of wealth?
The management of public affairs involves many different centres of social power, engaged in complex, mutable relations that range from cooperation, to competition, to out-and-out conflict.
Gianfranco Poggi's book, newly published by ECPR Press, emphasises the role played in these relations by political institutions, which generally claim special competence to authorise and regulate the activities of other institutions. But their claim is often contested by other power centres, serving different – and sometimes contrasting – interests.
To explore those processes, the author considers the dealings of political institutions with other forms of social power, in particular economic power in view of current 'state vs market' tensions. But he also considers the relations between politics at one end, and law, the public sphere, citizenship, and religion at the other.
Poggi's essays on central topics in political sociology reflect the formidable depth and breadth of his scholarship. Learned, lively, and with a critical edge, they cast historical as well as contemporary light on many corners of politics, the state, civil society and the economy. Charles Raab, University of Edinburgh