Power and authority in society – conclusion

Power is central core to interactions among human beings in the society and relates to establishing control in many aspects of life. Power has a number of important features that define it. First is the source, or the basis upon which an individual is conferred power. Secondly, are the means by which the individual who has power exercises that power while the amount of power determines the extent of response by those subject to such power. Finally, the scope of power determines the areas of relevance of power. This paper assessed the relevance of power and authority in politics and society, and assessed how authority legitimizes power.

Various dimensions of power that are applicable in politics and society exist in literature. The overt dimension for instance envisages a scenario where the powerful use power as a tool for domination of the powerless. In this case, those who are not involved in decision-making aspects are considered to have chosen such inaction hence indifferent to the processes of decision-making. Conversely, individuals in a position of power may carry out strategies that hinder the powerless from participating in decision-making processes. In such a scenario, those holding power determine the aspects that come to the limelight by creating a bias over the aspects they do not consider important. An example of this dimension of power is in issues that arise as important for the attention of UN. Issues that were not important according to the UN a few decades ago such as human rights for instance have become a common occupation of the entity in the modern day. Thirdly, individuals may exercise power in such a way to not only to avert the participation of subjects to such power, but also to achieve their quiescent compliance. In the society today, such application of power are evident were people do not show any disquiet even in the presence of glaring inequities.

To exercise power legitimately, one must however have the authority to act as the power allows. Authority can arise out of traditional, charismatic, or rational-legal aspects of the power bearer.  Traditional aspects relate to customs with examples of persons whose power is legitimized by such authority being royalty, priests, and religious leaders whom the subjects deem to have received authority from God. Charismatic authority arises out of individual attributes and experiences e.g. a former star player getting the respect of players on becoming a coach. Such authority is individualized hence temporal in nature as individuals may change their ideals affecting their appeal. Rational-legal authority arises from rules and regulations governing the society on which an individual exercises the power. For such authority to be legitimate, the individual  must acquire power position through the established procedures; the procedures must be justifiable with respect to the socially acceptable beliefs about where such authority should arise from and; the subjects to the authority must expressly confirm the positions of authority and other legitimate authorities recognize such positions.


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