‘A Gets B To Do Something That He Or She Would Not Otherwise Do.’ Does This Sum Up The Essence Of Political Power?

1944 words - 8 pages

Alice Muller1102205Introduction to PoliticsEssay 1Tutor: Jue Wang'A gets B to do something that he or she would not otherwise do.'Does this sum up the essence of political power?The concept of power is at the heart of the political debate. Politics is mainly about the distribution and control of power in time and space. In any society, power can be left in the hands of one person or millions of people can share sovereignty. In a dictatorship, the dictator seems to have great power. In democracies, which are dominant since the late 20th century, it appears every citizen has power, although he passes it on to the people he elects. In any regime, there seems to be different levels and sorts of ...view middle of the document...

According to him, when conflicting interests emerge, those who make the decisions are the ones who are in power. The pluralist view of power also states that power is dispersed throughout society; politics define how it is distributed amongst different people. For elitists, power is concentrated into a very restricted group who promotes its own interests.However, is power really one-dimensional as these views suggest it? There cannot just be winners and losers in any political decision. Ideally, all benefit from the decision that is made by governing forces. In addition, in a democracy, those who make the decisions are the ones in power, however they are supposed to represent the people who elected them. Therefore, their mission is not to make decisions according to their own personal interest but try to do what is best for the political entity they represent.In a democratic regime, different people have different levels of power, which they use in different ways. The people have the power to choose who is going to represent them and make decisions for them. The politicians elected have the power to make decisions of their own but are constrained by what the people are asking for. The problem is, that people vote according to what they want individually as opposed to what would be best for the community. Moreover, in making decisions, politicians are always at least slightly influenced by their desire to maintain their position of power; that is, to be re-elected.Political power is also about the way in which individuals and groups make use of their leadership. It appears that these individuals are not always exercising their power in the right way, thus affecting the efficiency of the system.We have settled that power has many faces. In his works sociologist Steven Lukes describes a three-dimensional view of power. The first face of power according to him is similar to Dahl's approach, which is decision making. Lukes adds to this two more dimensions: non-decision making and preference shaping. Indeed, those in power not only respond to people's preferences, they also shape preferences. To do this, they use a number of things, especially the media, which has developed greatly during the 20th and 21st centuries. I will go through this in more detail later on. At this point, I have tried to identify the characteristics and aspects of political power, as we see it today in the Western world.In the process of defining political power, one must establish a difference between power and authority. The sentence 'A gets B to do something' implies that A and B are in a relation of subordination which is dominated by A. Therefore, the will of A has control over the will of B. Politics is a never-ending adversarial conflict. To every idea, there is an opposition; to every speech, there is an interlocutor who will respond positively or negatively. Deliberation is a central part of politics, however at some point an agreement has to be reached and a decision...

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