The management of contemporary public affairs involves many different centres of social power, engaged in complex and mutable relations, ranging from willing cooperation, to competition, to out-and-out conflict. This book emphasises the role played in these relations by political institutions in particular. Generally, these claim a 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, after identifying the nature of 'the political', considers its dealings with other forms of social power. Among these, ecomic power gets particular attention, in view of the contemporary salience of the 'state vs market' issue. But this book also considers the relations between politics at one end, and law, the public sphere, citizenship, and religion at the other.
Born in Italy in 1934, Gianfranco Poggi received his first degree in Law (Padua, 1956), and subsequently a master's and a doctorate in Sociology at Berkeley (1958, 1963). After some teaching experiences at Bologna and Florence, in 1964 he joined the newly formed Department of Sociology at the University of Edinburgh. In 1988 he moved to the University of Virginia, leaving it in 1996 for a post at the European University Institute in Florence. He completed his academic career at the University of Trento, the town where he now resides. Professor Poggi has held visiting positions and fellowships at numerous other Universities in Canada, USA, Germany, and Australia. Gianfranco Poggi has published widely in two main fields of scholarship - history of social thought (studies of Tocqueville, Marx, Weber, Durkheim, Simmel) and the analysis of modern political institutions (books on the modern state and on forms of social power). Some of his books from both fields have been translated into several languages.