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Understanding Power

Autor:   •  April 7, 2014  •  Essay  •  688 Words (3 Pages)  •  1,379 Views

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Power is a difficult concept to define. It cannot be seen nor measured accurately yet it plays an active role in the world that we live in today. The typical view of power is the ability to achieve a desired outcome, from keeping oneself alive to the ability of governments to promote economic growth in an economy (Heywood 2013). However in order to fully grasp a true definition of power, and political power, we must address different definitions of the concept of power and identify where these concepts are exercised in the world around us. Therefore this essay will focus on the ‘ faces ‘ of power; as decision making, as agenda setting and as thought control and will then proceed to analyse where these faces of power can be seen in real life scenarios.

Robert A. Dahl reference ? entered the debate regarding power in response to criticisms of the working of American democracy. He defines the concept of power in general terms as the ‘subsets of relations among social units such that the behaviours of one or more units (responsive units ‘R') depend in some circumstances on the behaviour of other units (controlling units ‘C') (Haugaard 2002). Therefore it can be said that this face of power is that of the control of one unit over others: the power as the decision maker. Dahl is able to define power within the political system. C's power over R is defined through the following elements:

• Magnitude: the amounts of power exercised by different individuals or groups.

• Distribution: the way control over the government is shared amongst members in the systems.

• Scope: the power of C with respect to some class of R's activities, and

• Domain: the limitations of C's power.

He addresses the fact that both power and causality are linked. Rather than debating that C has power over R, he argues that C's behaviour causes R's behaviour (Dahl 1968) (Haugaard 2002, 12).

Therefore this power is defined as the conscious actions taken


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