The dilemma of power relations in Samoa. (2021)
Type of ContentTheses / Dissertations
Thesis DisciplinePacific Studies
Degree NameDoctor of Philosophy
PublisherUniversity of Canterbury
This thesis sought to explore the dilemma of power relations in Samoa from a holistic perspective, focusing largely on power’s major stakeholders that include the political state, traditional culture, and the church. The thesis argues that Samoa’s power relations are the works of multiple players, differing discourses and a predominant ideology, and should be studied on the basis of this understanding. While previous research on Samoan politics have focused on the conventional dual relationship between state power and traditional authority (pulega faamatai), this thesis reviewed the search to include the church and civil society organizations. Technically the Samoan society is governed under a plural system; it comprised of Western based law and democratic ideals, the village government under the faamatai, and church government with at least twenty practising denominations, each with own system of political control. The outcome is a syncretic mix which manifest in dilemmas of power contestations, political situations and human choices. The major challenge for the Samoan leadership has been that of trying to clarify its statehood in this context of contradictions, or the search for balance and harmony. In studying the problem, the thesis adopted a critical conceptual approach, mainly in the works of Antonio Gramsci, Pierre Bourdieu and Michel Foucault.
The thesis makes the assertion that firstly, Samoa’s power relations are complex because they involve a set of multiple narratives, of which the most powerful support the status quo. Secondly, the emergence of a strong state in the ruling party, the Human Rights Protection Party, has demonstrated how the new configuration and diffusion of power impacted modern leadership in the way they use power productively or otherwise. Central to the findings is the role of a reconfigured culture as the ideological underpinning in the situation, recognition and exercise of power in the Samoan society. Critical theory has managed to address these concerns much more effectively than any other approach.
Keywordspower, power relations, cultural hegemony, government, democracy, ideology, state, church, balance of power, culture, civil society
RightsAll Rights Reserved
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