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Power in ModernityAgency Relations and the Creative Destruction of the King's Two Bodies$
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Isaac Ariail Reed

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780226689319

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: September 2020

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226689593.001.0001

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Rector, Actor, Other

Rector, Actor, Other

(p.9) 1 Rector, Actor, Other
Power in Modernity

Isaac Ariail Reed

University of Chicago Press

This chapter develops the language of rector, actor, and other, and of "persons with projects" to work toward a new theory of power. It does so in dialogue with pragmatist theories of action and the theories of Orlando Patterson, Rene Girard, James Coleman, Judith Butler, and G.W.F. Hegel. In hierarchical relations, a figure is elevated to a superior position with enhanced capacity, and to such a figure discretion accrues. This is the person or group who rules, and rule enables the accomplishment of projects. Such mastery—which accrues to rectors—is dependent upon allies and subordinates (actors, who become agents) to whom tasks are delegated and from whom knowledge and expertise are gained, advice is taken, profits are stolen, and value is extracted. Power is dependent on its dependents, and an agent both stands in for, and works on behalf of, the rector. Actor becomes an agent by abdicating, in part, actor's own projects. If actor is an ally to rector, other stands outside the project, profaned. The radical uncertainty that other represents to rector and actor can become an synecdoche for the uncertainty of the world itself. There are four types of extreme alterity: enemy in war, slavery, invisibility, and scapegoat.

Keywords:   power, principal and agent, recognition, political sociology, exclusion, cultural sociology, lord and bondsman, Hegel, Slavery and Social Death, dehumanization

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