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Beyond Power: Alternative Conceptions of Being and the (Asian) Reconstitution of Social Theory

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The preoccupation with power in mainstream Western social theory can be challenged from a number of perspectives. In this paper, I consider some alternative ways of conceptualizing ways-of-being in society that are implicit in a number of Asian traditions of thought and, in particular, in Buddhism and Gandhian ideas. In this paper, I challenge the necessity for a power-based approach to social relations. I suggest both that the models of society emerging from Foucault and other major Western theorists are examples of culturally bound local knowledge that have significant negative influences on the conception of alternative social possibilities, and that the resources for such alternatives lie not only in Western forms of utopian thinking but in existing Asian traditions — the full sociological implications of which have not yet been explored or worked out in detail.


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