This paper aims to provide introductory conceptual tools for studying political power in a complex multi-level environment. In particular, it is intended to answer the question of how concepts provided by cybernetics and general systems theory (GST) could serve to foster the study of political power.
The objective is realized through a reconsideration of a set of the basic concepts of cybernetics, GST and political science. Two system identification models – black box and white box – along with Marian Mazur’s concept of steering are used to deconstruct the classic definition of power formulated by Max Weber. Next, a two-phase procedure for empirical power analysis is proposed. Rudimentary in its scope, the article shows a path of more comprehensive and transformative analyses of key notions.
It seems that system identification models help uncover structural and functional aspects of political power, which aids the process of analysis of different mechanisms of political power.
The article supports the argument for a conceptual isomorphism between cybernetics and political science. The value of the proposed approach is derived from the combination of two features. First, two aspects of system operation – functional and structural – help to focus research attention on different problems of political power analysis. Second, the interrelation and interdependence of both aspects of systems operation serve as a practical means in the analysis of communication and behavior of actors in the political power processes.
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