Gibson captures this sense when he says that it is

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Gibson captures this sense when he says that ‘It is simply not the case in any but themost idiosyncratic use of the word “power” that to have the power to do somethingis the same as actually to cause it to happen. It is merely to be able to cause it tohappen’ (1971: 102). It is this formulation that translates a causal conception ofRational and Irrational129
power as a relation into a conception of power as something structural; it shifts itfrom a property of relations to a capacity of actors. These capacities are such that‘if something were to occur, such and such effects would happen’ (1971: 105).Power becomes equivalent to it being possible to produce certain effects, theoreti-cally, given certain environmental conditions, which is how strategic contingenciestheory operates. It regards power as a conditional state.Clayton’s power: the kind of power youhave when you’re not really having powerIs power a visible and deployable asset?What one can do and say with the causal conception of power, as something givenby possession of resources, is very limited.5First, it appears to be not a social rela-tion but a possession. One has power rather than being in a relationship of power.Second, if power is not to be a conditional state, in which case it ceases to be rela-tional, then it must be seen to have happened for one to say that it has happened.The stimulus has to produce a response. Whereas Weber bequeaths a grammar ofpower, structured around relations of dominancy, these conceptions of power asequivalent to causality and premised on resources whittle away the relations ofdominancy. Power becomes merely an effect observable in specific episodes ofaction. Each episode starts from rest, and rest doesn’t have to be addressed. Theorganization theorists of the open system regard authority as corresponding to theconditions of rest. It need not be addressed; it does not require explanation becauseit isa fact. Politics can be denied as other than a deviant activity.The result of the conceptual decisions – which are, of course, also politicaldecisions – made by systems theorists as they elect to work within the discoursetheir concordance produces is a strangely schizophrenic representation of organiza-tions. On the one side, deemed the right side, is the bold confident formal repre-sentation. On the left side, there is a shadow system, little talked about other than bya few theorists of ‘power’ and largely ignored by the rest. Here is the dark side of thedialectic that turns domination into authority. Authority produces and is producedby rules and, while rules produce obedience, they can just as easily, where opportu-nity presents itself, produce deviance, as we represent figuratively in Figure 5.1.Opportunity is given by space for resistance – small patches of local indetermi-nation – in which ‘irrationalities’ that do not accord with the formal system logiccan flourish. Where these irrationalities can gain some leverage by exerting control

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