Concept of Power: Meaning and Structures of Power, Power, Authority and Legitimacy

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Meaning of Power

  • It is a Central Concept of Political Science
  • Russell defined Power as the production of intended effects
  • It is a possession of Control, Authority or Influence over others
  • Power is the ability or capacity to make decisions
  • Power always entails a social relationship between at least two actors
  • Power always gives rise to asymmetry in relationships
  • Power uses Sanctions

Power, Authority and Legitimacy

  • Authority consists of Power And Legitimacy
  • Power involves use of force to get obedience
  • Legitimacy is based on Respect And Willing Compliance
  • If Command is based on willing obedience, then power is manifested in the form of Consent
  • If command is based on coercion, then power is manifested in the form of Tyranny
Power, Authority and Legitimacy

Structures of Power

Structures of Power

Class Perspective

  • Developed by Marx and Engels
  • Political Power is the product of economic power which is ownership of means of production
  • The Dominant Class exercise power in society over Dependent Class
  • Under Capitalism working class get opportunity and became conscious of its exploitation

According to Gramsci Culture of Capitalist Society creates two institutions for domination which are:

1) Structure of Coercion

2) Structure Of legitimation

Elite Theory

  • Divides society into two categories of people: Elite and Masses
  • This Division doesn՚t give rise to Injustice
  • Propounded by Vilfredo Pareto , Gaetano Mosca , Robert Michel՚s and C. Wright Mills
  • Vilfredo Pareto - Circulation of Elites
  • Gaetano Mosca - The Ruling Class
  • Robert Michel՚s - Iron Law Of Oligarchy
  • C. Wright Mills - The Power Elite

Vilfredo Pareto (Circulation of Elites)

  • He used the term “Elite” in The Mind And Society
  • Masses lacks Leadership qualities
  • Elites are divided between “Governing Elite” and “Non-Governing Elite” and compete to get power

Gaetano Mosca (The Ruling Class)

  • People are divided into two groups: The Rulers and The Ruled
  • The Rulers always exercise power in Society
  • The Ruling Class possessed the Capacity Of Organization

Robert Michel՚s (Iron Law of Oligarchy)

  • Every organization reduces to Oligarchy
  • Human Beings are incapable of self-Government
  • Oligarchy is inevitable in an organization as if is an Iron Law

C. Wright Mills (Power Elites)

  • He preferred Power Elite to Ruling class
  • Power Elite is the combination of groups who possess power
  • Use the example of American Society
  • Power Elite comprises of Industrialist , Military leaders and Politicians
  • Power Elite help each other to strengthen Power and Position

Group Perspective

  • Group perspective on power corresponds to Pluralist theory
  • Power is divided between groups
  • These groups are Autonomous and share power
  • Pluralist Theory upheld distribution of power


1. Wright Mill՚s “The Power Elite” is a study of the contemporary politics of

a) China

b) United States Of America

c) Soviet Union

d) Great Britain

Answer: b

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