Lukes and power : Three dimensions and three criticisms

Raine Mäntysalo*

*Corresponding author for this work

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The chapter presents Stephen Lukes’ influential theory of power, as outlined in his book Power - A Radical View (1974) and its extended revision (2005), and reviews critical debates around it. The uses of Lukes’ theory in planning research are discussed, as well as insights to be drawn in the field from both the theory and its criticisms. In his approach to power, Lukes draws on the behaviourist tradition, building especially on the work of Dahl, and Bachrach and Baratz, while discussing critically their limitations and expanding on their work. Through this dialogue Lukes develops his three-dimensional theory of power. The criticisms of his theory concentrate especially on the objectivism of his concept of ‘real interests’, actor orientation neglecting structural power, and the narrowness of viewing power as domination. To gain a broader view of power, complementary approaches are needed. As such an approach, Bateson’s theory of power and especially his concept of ‘double bind’ are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationHandbook on Planning and Power
PublisherEdward Elgar
Number of pages16
ISBN (Electronic)978-1-83910-976-8
ISBN (Print)978-1-83910-975-1
Publication statusPublished - 16 May 2023
MoE publication typeA3 Book section, Chapters in research books


  • conflict
  • decision-making
  • domination
  • double bind
  • planning
  • pluralism


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