Equipes de recherche | Doctorants

Martin Staude


I welcome any comments, criticism, and questions (aussi en français ou en español). I am looking forward to a mutually fruitful discussion and exchange of ideas.


Doctorant en co-tutelle franco-allemande sous la direction de Harald Wenzel (Freie Universität Berlin, Allemagne) et de Sophie Papaefthymiou (Institut d'Études Politiques de Lyon, France)


Sujet de thèse

Power and Law as Meaning Fields and as Equivalents: A Theoretical Outline



My thesis is a study in the domain of sociological theory and combines ideas from Interpretative Paradigms, Systems Theory, Linguistics, and Structuralism.

Instead of conceiving of power and law as a particular type of action, text, communication, relation, or discourse, I consider them to be a special type of meaning thereof. I combine such an interpretative stance with a more structuralist and linguistic approach by conceptualizing power and law as meaning fields. A meaning field is comprised of isotopic and sedimentated meaning elements which can be psychically or communicatively activated.

A major part of my thesis consists in systematically relating and comparing the respective meaning fields of power and law. In so doing, I will adopt a rather micro-sociological perspective by analyzing power and law as elementary and universal phenomena that may appear in interactions, psychic systems, organizations, or discourses.

More specifically, I conceive of power and law as equivalents: The meaning fields of power and law overlap to a large degree, so that they are identical and indistinguishable in many major aspects, whereas they are different and distinguishable in some minor aspects. I argue that the similarities between power and law are qualitatively more important than their differences, so that it is appropriate to consider them equivalents or two sides of the same coin. I will back up this argument by carrying out a second-order description of the meaning fields of power and law, e.g. analyzing their semantic structure and function, their prototypical center and periphery, and their overlap and fuzzy boundaries.

Since power and law can be considered equivalents, I will study instances of selection and choice: When and why are power or law activated, and when are other meaning fields activated, e.g. money, coercion, love, persuasion, etc? In which systems or fields are power and law dominant or very likely to be activated? Why do certain actors seek or avoid power and law?

Another major issue concerns the different interrelations that power and law may entertain: How are power and law coupled, so that both remain distinguishable, but come to be structurally joined? When do power and law become indistinguishable so that it is hard or impossible for actors to tell them apart? What are actors' strategies to seek or avoid such indistinguishability? How are power and law transformed into each other?   


Autres thèmes de recherche

  • théorie et recherche fondamentale en sciences humaines

  • méthodologie et épistémologie

  • Amérique Latine et Afrique

Centre Norbert Elias

Unité mixte de recherche 8562
Marseille et Avignon
EHESS / CNRS / Avignon Université / Aix-Marseille Université


EHESS Marseille
La Vieille Charité
2, rue de la Charité
13 002 Marseille


Avignon Université
Campus Hannah Arendt
74, rue Louis Pasteur
84 000 Avignon


04 91 14 07 27