April 21, 2008

[On Power and Authority]

On Power and Authority
By Marc Bollinger

Power is at the centre of every human interaction, and yet, despite efforts to place it in a philosophical vacuum and define it ¶ semotus ex mens maculai·; we, as its greatest operators, seem unable to definitively conceptualize an all encompassing idiom of this ever present social force. And so, in the absence of a definitive theory of power, several key proponents of academia have presented their own autopsies on its nature. While Marx, Weber, Foucault and Galbraith would all agree that power is essentially the ability to impose individual or collective will upon individuals in order to coerce them into acting in a manner they would not otherwise choose to do so, what is so diversely debated is the manner in which this process occurs, and sources from which it is derived. Galbraith, in particular, offers a functional and applicable Anatomy of Power. His three categories of power are; Condign, overt implementation of power, typified by the use of punishment (such as imprisonment or capital punishment) in order to force compliance with a society·s practices, and discourage further deviance from normative behaviour; Compensatory, an overt implementation of power, characterized by the use of positive incentives (financial, or otherwise) to encourage conformity; and, perhaps most importantly, Conditioned, a subliminal implementation of power which:



right causes the individual to submit to the will of another or others.unless changing to a democratic state outright. However. 2 INTRODUCTION TO SOCIOLOGY 1: ASSESSMENT TASK 1 | SID: 308149254 . ed ucation. however.´ (Galbraith. such as Guantanamo Bay. It is not altogether uncommon for a Democratic state to hold authoritarian views and practices. and as such play widely varying roles within Democratic and Authoritarian states. proper.April 21. terrorism.wins submission by changing beliefs. Persuasion. social commitment to what seems natural. to the establishment of essentially fascistii concentration camps. Authoritarian states seldom introduce democratic practices iii. this is not necessarily the case. a society which has long pronounced itself as ¶The land of the free·. imagined or manufactured. political. while ¶conventional wisdom· places authoritarianism and democracy at opposite sides of the socio-political spectrum. Inversely.simply because the goals of democracy clash so obviously with the power structure of authoritarianism. However the nature of these sources is inherent to the nature of society in which they are functioning. The key differen ces between the exercise of power within democratic and authoritarian societies is in the distribution of power. habituation. and Organization. Modern examples of this within the United States of America. and paedophilia) or during periods of intense social. from the declarations of Martial law in the post-Katrina New Orleans. environmental or economic tension.. Property. are frequent and well publicized. 2008 [On Power and Authority] ´. 1984) These aspects of power are designated as originating from three key sources: Personality. the manner in which it is utilized to perpetuate normative behaviour and the manner in which deviance is dealt with.be it real.. particularly in relation to extreme deviance (for example: organized criminal activity. in reaction to the perceived threat of terrorism.

S. (Barro..April 21. as the traditional process of democratisation focuses largely upon the decentralization of power and a shift to egalitarian policy. Mill·s monumental work. 1890's) It is on this point that D emocracy and Authoritarianism draw first blood. particularly if that state is despotic in nature. he asks the question s: ´What. 1999) Going by Barro·s discussion of the impacts of democratisation. 2008 [On Power and Authority] An expansion of political fr eedom-more democracy-has opposing effects on economic growth. and how much to society?µ (Mill. But on the negative side. then. On the positive side. more democracy encourages rich -to-poor redistributions of income and may enhance the pow er of interest groups. Dec. In Chapter IV of J. 3 INTRODUCTION TO SOCIOLOGY 1: ASSESSMENT TASK 1 | SID: 308149254 . is the rightful limit to the sovereignty of the individual over himself? Where does the authority of society begin? How much of Human life should be assigned to individuality. On Liberty. it is easy to see that both the ¶benefits· and ¶costs· of the process impact negatively on the goals of an Authoritarian state. democratic institutions provide a check on governmental power and thereby limit the potential of public officials to amass personal wealth and to carry out unpopular policies.

This is generally not a reality. gossip. and religion. the sovereignty of the individual is represented on par with the discussion is On Liberty. As a result. this is 4 INTRODUCTION TO SOCIOLOGY 1: ASSESSMENT TASK 1 | SID: 308149254 . through conditional power (straying and low level deviance). in that personal agency is encouraged so far as the individual does not actively harm or hinder another or threaten the fabric of liberty itself .either. because all groups have equal political power. overtly through condign power (extreme deviance). Linked to this egalitarianism is the dissolution of formalized/institutionalized class stratification as all groups. as affluent individuals will often have more access to Galbraith·s sources of power. the public use of conditional power acts as a regulation for the use of condign and compensatory power. through manifestations of normative reinforcement such as public opinion. education. perhaps more subtly. in that all initially have equivalent sovereignty over themselves and equivalent responsibility to society. In a modern ¶textbook· democracy. once again. in which case the personal agency of others must be manipulated to sustain the equilibrium through the punishment and restriction of the offender·s agency. the ideological structures of society are no longer solely controlled by the state and the self-regulation of conditional power becomes more prevalent. Because an emphasis is placed up the equality of individuals.April 21. although the parameters on which reaction is necessitated and defined dynamically shift with the dominant discourses. This reaction is usually automatic and subconscious. particularly Property and Organization. 2008 [On Power and Authority] Democracy literally means ¶Rule of the people·. compensatory power (moderate deviance). As a flow on. freedom of expression is an almost inevitable development within democratic society. however. and as such concepts of power developed within democratic society are us ually centred on ideals of power -sharing and self-regulated systems of governance aimed at maintaining the equilibrium between liberty and stability. or.

(Olson. but internally justified through self -reflexive assertions of 5 INTRODUCTION TO SOCIOLOGY 1: ASSESSMENT TASK 1 | SID: 308149254 . the discrimination of responsibility for manifestations of power. uncoordinate d competitive theft by "roving bandits" destroys the incentive to invest and produce. Autocracy and Robocracies iv are but a few examples of potential ly Authoritarian states. 1993) This idea of a ¶stationary bandit· summarises the nature authoritarian rule most aptly. the discrimination in the determination of what is right and wrong. Monarchies. reinforce and protect its dominance and reap the benefits.a formalized reliance on discrimination. and in turn utilizes its power. and discursive influences of education. the key differentiating characteristic of Authoritarianism is not form. An authoritarian government·s actions are not regulated by or su bject to the evaluation of the populous. Oligarchies. Patriarchies. the discrimination of who holds power and who does not.. 2008 [On Power and Authority] largely limited through manifestati ons of the society·s regulatory institutions such as law and morality. Sep. Both can be better off if a bandit sets himself up as a dictator -a "stationary bandit" who monopolizes and rationalizes theft in the form of taxes. authoritarianism manifests itself in a much more varied manner. Matriarchies.April 21. However. but disposition . leaving little for either the population or the bandits. and finally. Under anarchy. to assert. morality and religion. The authoritarian government is essentially a parasitic ´stationary banditµ which institutionalises the sovereignty of the state over the individual. acceptable and inadmissible. As mentioned earlier. particularly condign.

The nature of the exercise of power in democratic and authoritarian societies is complex and difficult to categorically explain . as Galbraith himself did.April 21. Furthermore. And. 6 INTRODUCTION TO SOCIOLOGY 1: ASSESSMENT TASK 1 | SID: 308149254 . and the increase the perceived necessity of maintaining normative behaviour. for now at least. perhaps it is best that ´man's reach should exceed his graspµ. because it conditions the populous to internalise a perceived legitimacy of the ruling class. Though the physical and social manifestations of power are intrinsic to the fabric of either society. the repression of all forms of deviance is also central to the perpetuation of Authoritarian power so as to maintain the perception of power amongst the populous. just beyond reach. on which th e state·s authority largely is based upon. it is upon this perception that most interaction between state and citizen is administered.if not more. one begins to understand. the all encompassing idiom of power remains. Concurrently. the stratification of social groups is central to the perpetuation of Authoritarian power.significant than the reality of power itself. The repercussions of deviance is public and ingrained in social discourse in order to make each instance of suppression metonymic to the power of the government. But as Robert Browning said in his poem "Andrea Del Sarto". that ultimately the perception of power is as . 2008 [On Power and Authority] legality and morality. As a result.

No. and Policy Preferences among Latin American Elites. G. D. although in this sense many prison systems could be deemed fascist. J. which despite being a Military focused Dual Monarchy. J. R. iv A society categorised by a system of machine rule. Dictatorship. A. D. 31 Issue 1.. 261-274. 6. Vol. London: Hamilton. p37-61. Reviewed work(s): The Anatomy of Power by John Kenneth Galbraith. Design Strategies for Comparative International Studies of Community Power. 2006). 87. Part 2: Symposium on the Economic Analysis of Social Behavior in Honor of Gary S. Social Forces. Vol.. 567-576. C.April 21. Democracy. The Public Historian. to protect against rouge Kings and generals. held regular elections within the Ekklesia and Gerousia for key positions. and common is the fictional works of Isaac Asimov. Galbraith. (1984).) a philosophical position held that the Gods ascribed power to the king so long as he ruled with benevolence. 107. The Journal of Political Economy.. 3 . ii i 7 INTRODUCTION TO SOCIOLOGY 1: ASSESSMENT TASK 1 | SID: 308149254 . pp. 2008 [On Power and Authority] Bibliography Barro. 1973)). No. No. ((Spring) 1985). (1890's).. J. Mill. (Dec. London. early Confucian China shows hints of the reciprocation of responsibility between Ruler and Subject though the ¶Mandate of Heaven· concept. S. 7. S158-S183. 25p. Vol. Miller. Liberal government and authoritarianism. 606-620. (Feb 2002).. Authoritarian Attitudes. American Journal of Political Science. Democracy. No. (Jul. Olson.. The American Political Science Review. Becker . and even institutionalized government ¶watchdogs·. The Anatomy of Power. Trans. (coined in Ode 235 of the Book of Songs and discussed by the Confucian scholar Mencius in his self-titled work.and without this ¶Mandate of Heaven· to overthrow his regime was just. ((Mar. . 3 . usually related to artificial intelligence. 51. 50. C. 2 . M.. 3 . pp. 1999). Mitchell. ¶Isolated from the mind·s stains·. pp. On liberty. Daniel Stevens. 116-118. and Development. Vol. iii Though not altogether unheard of. No. Determinants of Democracy. Another example could be made of classical Sparta. K. Vol. Irvine. Economy & Society Vol. 1993). Strictly in relation to the fact that they are administered in such a way that deems the individuals (and subsequently their rights) within as subordinate to the interests of the state security. (Sep. the Ephors. B.

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