The Nature of Power, Part II -The Dimensions of Power

in psychology •  last year 

Social Reality: Violence, Power, and Change
The Nature of Power
Part II -The Dimensions of Power

1 - Power intermediate Relations

From a very young age, because I was still raised in a fascist and colonialist regime, the social and racist injustice that surrounded me awakened me to the veil problem that covers the entire social relationship - the phenomenon of Power - that was easy to identify in behaviors rigid and authoritarian and normalizing the institutions that involved me.
All my life I have fought against the abuse of Power and authority, which corrupts institutions and is at its peak in this savage capitalist system.
Steemit is the best decentralized social media to fight Authority and Power in today's totally dominated mainstream and social media, paid and controlled by the big oligarchies of Money.

Power is a social process behind interaction, that we can interpret in game theory in economic exchanges.
Power is an influence to mold other people's behavior based on the possibility of being sanctioned or rewarded.
Crozier and Friedberg in 1977 define Power in social relations in the following circumstances:

  • The relation is an instrument with a goal to motivate and influence other person behavior.
  • The relation can only be seen in one direction of a central person influencing others
  • The relation is a mutual negotiation with the pressure of the one that gives the orders.
  • The relation is unbalanced because one side has more resources and authority.

Power is a "cause", like a " force" in the hands of one person, that drives the subordinate(s).

"The system is run by the few with the few as the main beneficiaries. Most of the people in the world have no say in these systems and are either not helped or are adversely affected by them". - George Ritzer, Globalization: A Basic Text
Power is the ability to be in control, and decision making to achieve a practical goal.
Power is a centralizing structure to make policies and apply them in an organization, but it is destructive if there are abuse and corruption, the institutional outcomes are only poverty, injustice, and inequality.
Power is the black veil hiding the dark side of-of human nature.

Social agents have a predisposition to think and act based in historical social forces like the notion of the "habitus" of Bourdieu’s ‘Theory of Practice’ that socialization implant in people sets of dispositions and pre-orientations for their actions.

"To exercise Power costs effort and demands courage. That is why so many fail to assert rights to which they are perfectly entitled - because a right is a kind of Power but they are too lazy or too cowardly to exercise it. The virtues which cloak these faults are called patience and forbearance." - Friedrich Nietzsche
We can find three kinds of relations in Power, the causal, the strategic and the conflictual.


1.1 - Power as a causal relation
As we said Power is a "force" where one person that drives other's behaviors, and control them and can have with influence and control as a causal model of several Power relations.

1.2 - Power as Strategy
There is a strategy involved in a Power relationship where one person does what other person wants basing in "force" and legitimation.
But there is a zone of uncertainty in the relationship when the expected behaviors do not match the strategy of the one possessing the Power.

1.3 - Power as Conflict
Power creates a gap between master and slave where conflict is symptomatic because Power uses "force" to exercise it.

2 - Power as Dominations/Submission

All Power is manifested in a capacity of controlling people resources and events, basing the inequality of force between domination and submission in the social, economic and political level.
Domination is explicit in coercive means, but it has also unconscious mechanisms.

2.1- Social level
Social relations stratification defines the categories of people in groups of the dominating class and the submitted class, so we can talk about some kind of consciousness of submission.
Domination is the gap allowing the dominator sown the right to interfere in the conception and dynamics of social order.

“The truth is, one who seeks to achieve freedom by petitioning those in Power to give it to him has already failed, regardless of the response. To beg for the blessing of “authority” is to accept that the choice is the master’s alone to make, which means that the person is already, by definition, a slave.” - Larken Rose
2.2 - Economic Level
The asymmetry of economic domination presupposes hierarchic roles of activity with goals of a considered system, where the dominators have resources and the functions of cohesion and integration of the submitted.

2.3 - Political Level
Political dominance is the role of governments Power to use the State apparatus to exercise it.

“Politics: the art of using euphemisms, lies, emotionalism, and fear-mongering to dupe average people into accepting--or even demanding--their own enslavement.” - Larken Rose

2.4 - The types of Dominations

There are 3 types of Domination:

  • Traditional domination - based on individual conformism. There is still royalty in today's democracies.
  • Rational legal domination - based on rational rules in which the submitted ones believe to be legitime, like the governments and the state machinery of economics, wealth, education, etc.
  • Charismatic domination - based on an individual charisma (which embodies the image of what others would like to be) and can be seen in friends, heroes, politicians or gurus.
"every genuine form of domination implies a minimum of voluntary compliance, that is, an interest (based on ulterior motives or genuine acceptance) in obedience" - Max Weber

3 - Power as Affection

Power is an affective dominance in relations like knots of the social bonds.
The psychoanalytical approach the relations between Power and Love.
The false belief that people have of being loved by the chief, at the emotional/affective level he/she is an object of identification replacing the ideals of the egos of the subordinates.
Freud in 1921 analyzed the long-lasting organizations like the church and the military and found the same illusion of the Supreme Chief that has an equal shared love for all the crowd.
“It is impossible to escape the impression that people commonly use false standards of measurement - that they seek Power, success and wealth for themselves and admire them in others, and that they underestimate what is of true value in life.” - Sigmund Freud, Civilization and Its Discontents
Power is a dominant affective relationship using the chief as a projection of the ideals of being of all the dominated.

The chief becomes a desexualized sublimation of the sexual pulsions of life and death of the servants generating the duality of love and hate.

We are going to finish this post with the Redl analysis from 1970, on the different character traits of the chief and the expected forms of a dependence of people.

a) - The Patriarch, that makes people interiorize the Superego image of the good, and just father.
b) - The Leader, the understanding involved and participative chief where people introject his/her "good qualities" with their ideas of Being.
c) - The Tyrant, based on an imposed and rigid order, where people identify themselves with the aggressor.
d) - The Loved, the chief that everybody falls in love with, emerging in a mirror of libidinal pulsions.
e) - The Hated, the sadistic dominator, that joins people in solidarity with the aggressive pulsion.
f) - The Organizer, releases the repressed desires of the group like a forbidden pleasure, diminishing the conflicts.
g) - The Seducer, creates an affective situation that satisfies the pulsions of the group.
h) - The Hero, the one that stands against injustice or authoritarianism of the chief and defends the people against his/her pulsions.
i) - The Bad, the chief that makes a bad influence on the group, because they love to express the same feeling.
j) - The Good, that works the group to reduce conflicts and guilt.
We conclude that in a group there is always a person centralizing identification, objects of pulsion or the Ego. generating emotions that reveal the affective ambient of the group.

"The eagerness for Power does not originate from strength, but from weakness." - Erich Fromm

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

Social Reality: Violence, Power and Change


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


What is Power? - Introduction- this post
The Nature of Power

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

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


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.
French, J. R. P., Morrison, H. W., & Levinger, G. (1960). Coercive Power and forces affecting conformity
Dahl, R.A. (1957), The Concept of Power.
Giddens, Anthony, Capitalism and Modern Social Theory: An Analysis of the Writings of Marx, Durkheim and Max Weber, 1971.
Grabb, Edward G., Theories of Social Inequality: Classical and Contemporary Perspectives,1990.
Weber, Max, Economy and Society: An Outline of Interpretive Sociology, 1968.

Authors get paid when people like you upvote their post.
If you enjoyed what you read here, create your account today and start earning FREE STEEM!
Sort Order:  

I like the part with the "Power and Love relation" and Freud's quote. Of course we can pillorise those in power, but what I think is a consequent core issue is that most people who complain about the power abusers only do so as long as they see themselves in the victim position. Yet as soon as they attain power themselves in some way, they behave exactly like those they formerly complained about. As if all memory of their own past experience of unjustice has been erased. So basically, whenever people complain about unjustice this is surely not saying anything at all about their overall sense of Justice and Love. Having said that, I think it is not that the power suddenly makes them blind, but they always had the clear tendency to becoming power abusers as well. It just never crystallized before. ;)

Yes, it's true, abused people tend to be more attached to the abuse of power.
The psychoanalytic perspective is very clear in your answer.
But today people going to the University of Portugal, are totally open to being humiliated to be accepted
by the student traditions in universities by the initiation rituals, freshmen have to go through, because they are only waiting their turn to do it to newcomers and worst that was done to them.
These stupid rites are just a form of making them interiorize and accept the power of hierarchic and centralized institutions.
I never did subjugate to this kind of rituals even in the military
I was ready to die fighting, instead of accepting it.
I was the first officer of the Marines in my country that totally refused the final compulsory rite, and I become a very resistant person against any kind of authority or power abuse.
With my youth "hot-blood" I was prepared to be very violent and take revenge, so I escaped it, and I never did it to anyone in my life, and sometimes after that, I had to be aggressive against this wolf groups to save a lot of people that later didn't become abusers.
There is always a story of abuse in every sexual, psychological or physical abuser, as a repetition pattern.
Only people that follow the path of know thyself moto in life, or by psychoanalisys can get conscious, and stay vigilant to avoid the repetition, in our family and social life.
If we accept being abused we are never free in our lives.

Yeah, I too thought of these rituals. Most often, abusers believe that the only way to not become abused again is to abuse others. "Attack is the best defense". So abusing power essentially is a sign of fear to become abused ourselves.


Curated for #informationwar (by @truthforce)
Relevance: Nature Of Power, And How It Corrupts

If power comes with violence and force, it will not last long
Very good article