What is Power Research?

Power research is investigative research that follows the money and connects the dots between key players in the power structure. It is typically practiced by activists, academic researchers, and journalists who have an interest in mapping, challenging, and understanding systems of power.

Power research focuses on networks of people, organizations, and their various business, political, and personal relationships. It also recognizes that the power structure is not contained within the institutions and individuals that we’re often told have power in a democracy, elected officials, for instance. Instead, we take a broader view, going up the food chain to look at major corporations and billionaires and other organizations and individuals who wield extraordinary amounts of influence and control in our society.

Who benefits? Who wins? Who governs? Who has a reputation for power? These power indicators are drawn from the work of UC Santa Cruz professor William Domhoff, whose 1967 book Who Rules America? is still a landmark study of power in America. They help guide power research in its analysis of where to focus, and who to study. Domhoff’s definition of the power elite, and really all of his work, is worth reading, as is the work of other power structure researchers like Floyd Hunter and C. Wright Mills.

Why do power research?