Power Analyzed Through the Economy: A Primate Perspective


  • Ella Brown Arts and Science




Primate, power, economy


This study utilizes primate economies and power structures to explore Foucault’s suggestion that the analysis of power can in all ways be deduced from the economy. The paper focuses on two of Foucault’s conceptions of power, the juridical and the Marxist. The juridical conception of power figures power as a commodity. The Marxist conception of power sees power as a mechanism which serves to perpetuate class domination and maintain production relations. First, the juridical conception of power is explored, and it is found that primate power is modeled on the commodity during peaceful transactions of power however, when force is utilized, the model of power enters a war-repression schema which models power as a relationship of force. The Marxist conception of power is also found within the primate power structure as power-facilitated access to food and territory acts to perpetuate class dominance within the primate group. Sex represents an intersection between the two conceptions of power as it is a productive force that produced more kin which then allows power to be passed onto the next of kin where power acts as a commodity. The juridical and Marxist conceptions of power are viewed as legitimate ways of analyzing power within primate groups, however, they fail to provide a holistic view of power, so it is concluded that the analysis of power cannot be entirely deduced from the economy.


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