Lukes’ Revised Rebellion

Reading Steven Lukes’ revised and updated version of Power: A Radical View, there are some very interesting points, including the relative merits of a culturalist or a materialist interpretation of Gramsci’s egemonia, and a discussion of an influential article by Charles Tilly, ‘Domination, Resistance, Compliance…Discourse’ in Sociological Forum, 6 (3): 593-602. Tilly posed the following question. If ordinary domination so consistently hurts the well-defined interests of subordinate groups, why do subordinates comply? Why don’t they rebel continuously? He provided a checklist of possible answers:

1. The premise is incorrect: subordinates are actually rebelling continuously, but in covert ways.

2. Subordinates actually get something in return for their subordination, something that is sufficient to make them acquiesce most of the time.

3. Through the pursuit of other valued ends such as esteem or identity, subordinates become implicated in systems that exploit or oppress them. (In some versions, no.3 becomes identical to no.2).

4. As a result of mystification, repression, or the sheer unavailability of alternative ideological frames, subordinates remain unaware of their true interests.

5. Force and inertia hold a subordinate in place.

6. Resistance and rebellion are costly; most subordinates lack the necessary means.

7. All of the above.

Lukes will agree with point 7. He thinks each of the previous 6 possibilities can be seen to be valid in different circumstances and at different times.