Domination of Domination Idea: “The Will to Power” in Contemporary Social Theory. Part II

Domination of Domination Idea:
“The Will to Power” in Contemporary Social Theory. Part II

Gofman A.В.

Dr. Sci. (Sociol.), Prof., National Research University Higher School of Economics; Chief Researcher, Institute of Sociology of FCTAS RAS, Moscow, Russia

ID of the Article:

For citation:

Gofman A.В. Domination of Domination Idea: “The Will to Power” in Contemporary Social Theory. Part II. Sotsiologicheskie issledovaniya [Sociological Studies]. 2023. No 5. P. 3-14


The article discusses the “power determinism” and “power reductionism” ideas, in particular, in relation to the scientific knowledge field. Unlike the classical era of social science, based on the idea of an honest and unbiased search for truth, today the idea of scientific knowledge as politically engaged and subordinate to social movements, acting under various “progressive” slogans, has gained extraordinary popularity. This ideology of conformism in relation to these movements largely occupies a dominant position in the Western university system today. A special role in the process of reducing scientific knowledge to the factor of power was played by the ideas of such left-wing anarchists and pioneers of “cathedral nihilism” as M. Foucault and P. Feyerabend. In their work, one can find sources of a number of popular social movements for which truth is exclusively a product of certain domination forms: class, racial, gender, colonial, etc.; the autonomy of scientific knowledge is denied. In part, the popularity of power determinism is explained by strengthening of the factor of political power and expansion of opportunities for its use and camouflage, in particular, thanks to modern information technologies. Cumulatively, the expansion of “power determinism” and “power reductionism” in the field of sociological knowledge leads to a reducing of its level and authority on a social and global scale.

power; domination; social theory; science; “power-knowledge”; causes; effects; P. Feyerabend; M. Foucault


Alexander J. (2008; 2009) The Democratic Struggle for Power: the 2008 US Presidential Campaign. Vestnik MGIMO-Universiteta [The MGIMO University Bulletin]. No. 3 (3): 73–80; No. 1 (4): 61–72. (In Russ.)

Baudrillard J. (2016) The Spirit of Terrorism. There Was No War in the Gulf. Moscow: RIPOL Classic. (In Russ.)

Bauman Z. (2002) Violence, old and new. In: Bauman Z. The Individualized Society. Moscow: Logos: 259–275. (In Russ.)

Durkheim E. (2021) The Moral Education. Moscow: VSHE. (In Russ.)

Eribon D. (2008) Michel Foucault. Moscow: Molodaya gvardiya. (In Russ.)

Feyerabend P. (1986) Science in a Free Society. In: Feyerabend P. Selected Works on the Methodology of Science. Moscow: Progress: 467–523. (In Russ.)

Foucault M. (2002) Disciplinary Society in Crisis. In: Foucault M. Intellectuals and Power. Part 1. Articles and Interviews 1970–1984. Moscow: Praxis: 319–323. (In Russ.)

Foucault M. (2005) “Society Must be Defended”: Lectures at the Collège de France, 1975–1976. St. Petersburg: Nauka. (In Russ.)

Foucault M. (2011) Security, territory, population. A course of lectures delivered at the Collège de France in the 1977/78 academic year. St. Petersburg: Nauka. (In Russ.)

Jouvenel B. de. (2011) On Power: The Natural History of Its Growth. Moscow: IRISEN, Mysl. (In Russ.)

Miller J. (2013) The Passion of Michel Foucault. Moscow: Ekaterinburg: Kabinetnyi uchionyi. (In Russ.)

Murray D. (2021) The Madness of Crowds. Moscow: RIPOL Classic. (In Russ.)

Therborn G. Knowledge and Power: Social Science and the Social World. Sotsiologicheskie issledovaniya [Sociological Studies]. No. 4: 15–20. (In Russ.)

Veyne P. (2013) Foucault: His Thought, His Character. St. Petersburg: Vladimir Dal. (In Russ.)

Weber M. (1990) Politics as a Vocation. In: Weber M. Selected works. Moscow: Progress: 644–706. (In Russ.)

Weber M. (2016) Economy and Society. An Outline of Interpretive Sociology. Vol. 1. Moscow: VSHE. (In Russ.)

Content No 5, 2023