© 2017

The Political Anatomy of Domination


Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xxxii
  2. The Legitimation of Authoritarian Domination: Dispositions to Obey and Constellation of Interests

  3. The ‘Complications’ of Domination: A Critique of the Problematics of Intentionality

  4. Back Matter
    Pages 335-351

About this book


Rereading Marx, Weber, Gramsci and, more recently, Bourdieu and Foucault, Béatrice Hibou tackles one of the core questions of political and social theory: state domination. Combining comparative analyses of everyday life and economics, she highlights the arrangements, understandings and practices that make domination conceivable, bearable, and even acceptable or reassuring. Domination is all the more insidious and painless it often refers to the question of a desire of state. To carry out this demonstration, Hibou examines authoritarian or totalitarian situations —especially comparing the paradigmatic European cases of fascism, Nazism and Soviet socialism and those of contemporary China or North and Sub-Saharan Africa—which also allows us to grasp what domination is in the contemporary democratic framework. Hibou provides the reader with the necessary tools to develop a renewed critique of the downward political slide in the contemporary city.


Political Authority State Domination Marx Weber Gramsci Bourdieu Foucault Authoritarianism

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.CERI-SciencesPoParisFrance

About the authors

Béatrice Hibou is CNRS Director of Research at CERI-Sciences Po, France. Her comparative research in political economy explores, from a Weberian perspective and a Foucaultian conception of power, the political significance of economic reform, state trajectories and the exercise of domination, based on cases from sub-Saharan Africa, the Maghreb and Europe. Her major publications include The Bureaucratization of the World in the Neoliberal Era (2015), The Force of Obedience: The Political Economy of Repression in Tunisia (2011), and Privatizing the State (ed., 2004).

Bibliographic information

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“This is a very erudite piece of work, working from cases such as Nazi Germany and North Africa. In very interesting ways for an Africanist, the author makes African cases—including North Africa—key examples to understand through the general and comparative lens of “domination” that works through the mediation of paradox, illogicality and uncertainty, through the mobilization of selective and specific clientelism, and other techniques. The richness of the examples, their juxtaposition and the links forged to the theoretical literature (without being polemic) offers a strong example for readers entering the theme itself and/or their own case studies.” (Jane Guyer, Professor Emerita, Johns Hopkins University, USA)

“This book shows with an impressing amount of examples how authoritarian regimes use plenty of other complex and subtle tools to persuade their subjects to comply and to tolerate them. The great merit of this outstanding work is to show the hidden face of authoritarian domination. Taking advantage of the exceptional experience of field research of its author, the book draws a map of the numerous and multifaceted techniques of domination adopted by authoritarian regimes. A very brilliant and penetrating contribution to political sociology, political science and sociology of power relations.” (Alfio Mastropaolo, Full Professor, University of Turin, Italy)