Bell, Stephen. (2012) The Power of Ideas: The Ideational Shaping of the Structural Power of Business. International Studies Quarterly, doi: 10.1111/j.1468-2478.2012.00743.x
© 2012 International Studies Association
It is now widely accepted that the classic arguments regarding the “structural power” of business are too “structuralist.” Subsequent research has focused on a widening array of independent variables that shape the variability of such power. This paper extends this research tradition, arguing that structural power theory has given insufficient attention to governmental actors, typically the targets of such power. The paper argues that ideas and the ideational processes through which government and state leaders construct threat perceptions regarding structural power can be important in mediating such power. The literature on power typically argues that power shapes ideas and disciplines target subjects. This paper revises this logic by arguing that the ideas of target subjects can also shape power. The paper’s arguments then are essentially constructivist, but the paper extends such arguments by insisting on a greater role for agency than is often found in constructivist reasoning.