This chapter examines the performative dimension of power in depth, putting it in relationship to the material, relational, and discursive dimensions of power. It begins with the concept of illocutionary force, developed by J.L. Austin, and moves to the work of Judith Butler. Performative power involves (1) an accrual of agency, (2) the dependence of this accrual for its efficacy on the dramatic felicity of actions as they are interpreted by a public or audience, and therefore (3) the dependence of sending-and-binding, or exclusion from sending-and-binding, on the interpretation of front stage drama. The chapter examines two cases, so as to put performative power in relationship to to the overall theory of power being proposed: The Salem Witch Trials and the fall of Oscar Wilde. It also considers where and when in chains of power and their representation tends to flourish: at the extreme top and far bottom of power pyramids, in situations of spatial separation from organized power relations, and in inchoate interactional situations. Finally, the chapter considers the importance of founding performances, and does so via an examination of Hannah Arendt's work On Revolution.
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