The unexpected Exhilaration of local Power

Abstract : How do we explain the mysterious pull of power which can lead individuals to dedicate their whole lives to the political arena and to fight with so much fervour and energy to ‘represent’ their fellow citizens ? The fairly consensual answer usually given to this question in the academic literature on this subject is to assume that those elected are motivated by an impulsive and instinctive thirst for exercising power, authority, and influence. In the collective imagination, political success comes from a certain mental toughness, associated with acquisitiveness, pecuniary or other, implying domination and conquering power and then holding on to it. But in Winston Churchill’s celebrated words, politics involves not only blood and sweat but also tears, and it is this latter facet that the literature of the social sciences often neglects (although this is not necessarily the case for historians, as we shall see below). Our aim is indeed here to defend the hypothesis that local power is concerned more with taking knocks and harbouring doubts as much as registering quiet or joyful satisfaction and that it is through the intensity of these emotional fragilities that the real attraction to local politics is often to be found.
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Submitted on : Thursday, October 10, 2019 - 8:27:12 AM
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Alain Faure. The unexpected Exhilaration of local Power. 2019, 8 p. ⟨halshs-02310232⟩

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