The power to resist: domination, habitus and resistance in the cast system

Irene Rafanell, Hugo Gorringe

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


A significant problem with conventional analyses of power relations is that they ultimately conceive of individuals internalizing certain aspects of their contextual social environments (desires or norms) which determine their future behaviour. Taking issue with such approaches we rework Foucault’s theory of power using insights from Barnes’ performative theory of social institutions. This enables us to comprehend social life as the product of the continuous interaction of heterogeneous but mutually susceptible individuals. These relationships are permeated by different technologies of power focused on the materiality of the body. From this perspective, bodies, rather than minds, are central to power dynamics. Drawing on empirical work on Dalit activists we argue that power should be conceived as an ongoing dynamic between power holders and power subjects. Both domination and resistance are, thus, seen not only as integral to the dynamics of power but as constitutive of individual and group identities and practices. It is only in this context that we can understand resistance movements amongst the most marginalized and vulnerable social groups.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2009
EventThe Sociological Review: 100th Anniversary Conference -
Duration: 14 Jun 201617 Jun 2016


ConferenceThe Sociological Review: 100th Anniversary Conference


Dive into the research topics of 'The power to resist: domination, habitus and resistance in the cast system'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this