The Nature of Power, Part I - The Notions of Power

in psychology •  last year  (edited)

Social Reality: Violence, Power, and Change
The Nature of Power
Part I - The Notions of Power


After last post's introduction about the philosophical perspective of Power, we now go more into the social psychology notions, and we start now to talk about the nature, dynamics and consequences of Power in human social exchanges.
In the next three posts, we are now starting to talk about the Notions, the Dynamics and the Consequences of Power in human social exchanges.

One of the greatest violence of power over people is subject to the extinction of their own eco-system, due to unsustainable human activity mainly because of the psychopathic insatiability of profit generation, which removes from the equation the sustainability of the planet and human values.

"There is power in every phenomenon where is revealed the ability of one individual to obtain from another is a behavior which he would not have spontaneously adopted".- Georges Burdeau
Power is the right to deliberate, act, command and, depending on the context, exercise its authority, sovereignty, possession of a domain, resources, influence or force.
Organizational Leadership is always related to Power, which in turn is linked to the authority and responsibility of Leader, which allows him to achieve the submission of the will of others.
"Not a necessity, not a desire - no, the love of power is the demon of men. Let them have everything - health, food, a place to live, entertainment - they are and remain unhappy and low-spirited: for the demon waits and waits and will be satisfied". - Friedrich Nietzsche

power-nature-en.jpg

1- Introductory Notions


1.1 - The Notion of Power

Power "forces" behaviors on people that they will never have if they could choose without constraints.
Power uses coercion, "force" or violence to stop the human freedom of choice.
So Power is about a "force" that can influence people's behavior.
La Pierre in 1977 defines two forms of Power the "Individual" and the "Institutional".
The Individual Power can be used and/or abused, as a possession to sanction others and not being sanctioned.
The Institutional Power can be exercised with a backup with a set of rules for its use.
Power is about the binomial relation between Domination and Submission.
"Power reveals the man". - Sófocles

1.2 - Power and Influence

Power should not be confused with influence because it appears in social relationships as control, influence, and persuasion to modify another person's behavioral choice.
Power in human relationships is the ability to exercise, defend and preserve it, as a way to control a person, group or organization.
Power can be a motive for command or domination, a cognition as a way to control personal efficiency, and a behavior "force" modeling of the right to act over the others.
Now we will analyze the bases of Power as a capacity to influence others.

"Power is the disease that clings the most." - Erich Remarque
1.3 - Power and Leadership

The investigation field of Leadership has made a lot of analysis how the nature of power influences people and group behavior.
The Leader is the individual that influences other people in an informal group or informal organizations.
Leadership is related to the hierarchic power of organizations and the influences on formal groups.
Social psychology mainly studied the phenomena of Leadership and the type of influences and forms of behavior of the Leaders.
Leadership is about Authority in a process of influences where the leader organizes people of a group to accomplish a goal.

In informal groups, the Leader is the one that can influence other members of the group.
Leadership is connected to the people's traits of personality of the Leader, based in some kind of prestige at the personal, political or economic levels.
Organizational Leadership is always related to Power, which in turn is linked to the authority and responsibility of Leader, which allows him to achieve the submission of the will of others.
But the Leader is also subject to possible coercion on the part of subordinates who can also exercise small leaderships and resistance.

Freud sees the Leader as the mirror for the subordinates, reflecting the ideals of being of all the members of the group, and at some time give the illusion that he/she loves them all.

The evolution of theories of Leadership focused on four different perspectives.
Behavioral Theories studying the behavior of leaders as a way to predict leadership capabilities.
Personality Trait Theories, that believe the traits of personality of the leaders determine its efficacy.
Power and Influence Theories, studying the source, use, and influence of the power of the leader to achieve goals.
Contingency Theories, that sustain that the environment is important to find out the best type of leadership for each circumstance.

1.4 - Power and Authority

Authority is the legitime use of power when one person can exercise it over other(s), on the basis of a formal contract where members accept "formal order" to regulate their actions.
So, Authority is based on consent in a voluntary submission to a system of coordination and cooperation with formal rules and regulations are well defined.
Authority can be imposed (chief) or accepted (leader) in the dynamic framework of Power and influence.
So there is a difference between authority (static, formal, submission, with sanctions and rewards) and leadership (Dynamic, tactic and not dominant and accepted).
We have talked the notions of Power in the next post two posts we will analyze its Dimensions and the Effects.

"All power is the natural enemy of intelligence". - Marie Condorcet

How to understand power - Eric Liu

Last posts in this series on Social Reality, Violence, Power and Change
Introduction:

Social Reality: Violence, Power and Change

Violence:

An Introduction to Violence
The Concepts of Violence, Aggression, and Aggressiveness
The Theories on Violence
The influencers of Violence -Part One - Culture and Social Context
The influencers of Violence -Part Two - Social , Cognitive and Environmental Factors
The ascend of Today's Violence

Power:

What is Power? - Introduction
The Nature of Power
  • Part I - The Notions of power - this post

Articles from the next series of posts about Social Reality, Violence, Power and Change:

  • Part II -The Dimensions of Power
  • Part III -The foundations of Power
The Dynamics of Power
The Effects and Consequences of Power

Change:

Change and Culture
The Theories and conceptualization of Change
Factors determining Change
The ways of Change
Social Change

References consulted:

Les concepts fondamentaux de la psychologie sociale - Gustave-Nicolas Fischer
La psychologie sociale - Gustave-Nicolas Fischer
The social-violence dynamics, power, change - Gustave-Nicolas Fischer Planeta / ISPA, 1980
Gustave-Nicolas Fischer is Professor of Psychology and Director of the Psychology Laboratory at the University of Metz.
French, J. R. P., & Raven, B.H. (1959). The bases of social power.
Raven, B. H. & Rubin, J. Z. (1976). Social psychology: People in groups
Castel, R. The metamorphoses of the social question. Voices, 1998.
Moscovici, S. (1976). Social influence and social change. London: Academic Press
Michel Foucault, Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison
Festinger, L. (1954). A theory of social comparison processes.
Human Relations,
French, J. R. P., Morrison, H. W., & Levinger, G. (1960). Coercive power and forces affecting conformity

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In understanding of many people the power is the government, the President.The nature of power tells us where power appears and exists.Understanding of power allows us to develop and improve its mechanisms and if it does not correspond,then society will soon disintegrate. Any society cannot exist without power.

Yes, power is inextinguishable, but as a non-realizable utopia power could belong to every citizen as inalienable property. What a beautiful world, it would be. :)
Power is behind a black veil hiding the dark side of human nature.

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But it must empower the people
Do not be an authority on its own

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