• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Political Power

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

'A gets B to do something that he or she would not otherwise do'. Does this sum up the essence of political power? "Political analysis can be defined quite simply as the analysis of the nature, exercise and distribution of power."1 This argument is criticised of being too broad, excluding almost nothing, nevertheless it is reasonable to argue that power is the central theme which lies throughout the study of politics. Therefore defining the concept of power is one of the crucial things in the study of politics consequently it is often contested and can never be agreed among the scholars. This essay will focus on so-called the 'faces of power' controversy in the post war period. First of all, the idea which consists of the first and basic part in interpreting power will be introduced. Then what its critiques argue and their flaws will also be discussed to draw the conclusion how far the argument 'A gets B to do something that he or she would not otherwise do' reflects the essence of power. The 'faces of power' debate was raised from different theoretical traditions and approaches to political analysis. Basically the argument is about whether the concept of power is simple and quantifiable or it is rather complicated and intuitive concept which cannot be measured. Lukes2 acknowledges that this concept can never be settled. ...read more.

Middle

Moreover, it does not take the potential power into account. In this manner, the power which is not exerted cannot be regarded as power. For instance, some business groups would not be concerned with the welfare issues until they realise the increased burden for welfare tax. Then it might be possible for them to begin exercising their power which has not been exercised without any explicit need for it. Also as assumed from its name, it only uncovers 'one face of power' ignoring other circumstances "in which decisions are prevented from happening, the area of non-decision-making."4 This gave a rise to the second face of power argument by Bachrach and Baratz. According to their view, power should be understood as agenda-setting which is the two dimensional approach. "Power might be manifested not only in doing things but also in ensuring that things do not get done."5 What they basically insist is that power is exercised in choosing what should be involved in formal discussion and what should not be. In other words, who holds the power needs to be understood in agenda-setting process before the actual decision-making process. In this way, they have broadened the boundary in the concept of power. This kind of approach is well shown in the liberal democratic system where parties are seen as the medium of representing a particular preference on issues. ...read more.

Conclusion

'real' need, without a standard of truth against which to judge them."9 In this sense this debate become meaningless since there is no scientific method which to prove and make an absolute judgement over this. Furthermore it is contested that nobody is capable of distinguishing the autonomous decision based on real interests and the one based on felt interests being manipulated from powerful. To conclude, the debate over the concept of power has been developed from the shallow one dimensional understanding to a more intuitive and complex three dimensional one. It cannot be said that the effort of developing it into more sophisticated form has always been successful. However through this process, it is true to say that the concept of power has been understood from various approaches which enabled better understanding. Nevertheless the important point to note is that the latter has never attempted to replace or deny the former approach since no single argument can define the political concept of power by its own. Rather, it has its root in the former argument and tries to make it more convincing. From this point of view, power is definitely something which enables 'A gets B to do something that he or she would not otherwise do'. Therefore on one hand, it is possible to say that the essence of power lies in this argument to a certain extent but there can be plural ways depending on approaches in doing so. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Political Philosophy section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Political Philosophy essays

  1. The Productivity of Colonial Power

    The contact zone was the crucible of hybridity. The disintegrating 'civilised/uncivilised' binary was just one example of how the material arrangements of the colonies were challenging the 'latent' binaries which underwrote so much of the ideology. In India, the assimilation of certain educated native castes into the colonial apparatus was a movement from 'other' into 'self.'

  2. How have political sociologist understood globalization? Globalization is perhaps the central concept of ...

    might easily subscribe. So, recognizing the significant cultural sources of resistance to the power of globalization goes a long way towards getting this power in perspective. The impact of globalization thus becomes, more plausibly, a matter of the interplay of an institutional-technological force towards globality with counterpoised 'localizing' forces.

  1. Marxism - political theory

    Through this process, individuals develop their human powers and potentials. Alienation Under capitalism, the relationship between labor and human expression changes: rather than laboring to fulfill their needs or express ideas, workers do so at the demands of capitalists. Workers are alienated from their labor because it no longer belongs to the worker, but rather to the capitalist.

  2. The study of international or rather global politics, seeks to provide an account of ...

    The sovereign is also limited in his exercise of absolute power by the acknowledgement of Divine Law and the ruler is still subject to the laws of God and of nature (VIII,ix). But other than these restrictions a sovereign is not bound by the laws that he makes.

  1. Extent of key political ideas in directly influencing change and development .

    The Zollverein helped to unify the economies of north and central Germany, as it standardised both currency and the system of weights throughout its member states. Whilst, the Zollverein also became a focal point for national feeling, and when in 1844 it signed a favourable trade treaty with Belgium, it

  2. Photomontage in Berlin, A critical study of the capitals inter-war artwork

    Dada essay, www.artessay.com/levgrav/2359u59/40/dada5849-3584/0u0/ 4. Dawn Ades Photomontage (London: Thames and Hudson, 1976), p13 5. Dawn Ades Photomontage (London: Thames and Hudson, 1976), p14 Although a subtle feminist piece, it shows idea's of Dadaism and also of a theme regular in her pieces, that of men and women becoming one.

  1. Legacies of the totalitarian system and the political transformation of Romanian society after 1989.

    about the needs of society and the correct insight into the things that needed to be done for society to develop. The socialist and communist ideology promised equality, fraternity, and prosperity. Therefore the Communist Party had the right to: - set a complete monopoly over the means of communication (press, TV).

  2. Are political parties better understood as reflections of ‘social cleavages’, or products of strategic ...

    When mass voting rights were granted to most Europeans around the turn of the century, this political structure was already in place. The Conservative Party in Britain, for example, became the representative of the middle-class establishment, and the Labour Party catered to the interests of the working classviii.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work