Sociology of Power: What is Power?

What is power?

Being at the heart of social stratification, many people view power as the ability to influence or control another person's behavior.

According to Max Weber, power is a person’s ability to control other people’s thoughts and behaviors, ability to regulate the distribution of resources, and ability to influence important social events. But this ability can be taken away, according to Weber. He says that a person’s power can be lost in the ongoing conflict between the haves and the have-nots.

Karl Marx, however, views power differently. He sees it as a social group issue rather than an individual issue. In Marx’s eyes, the hierarchy of power is related to economic classes.

An example would be the heads of a manufacturing company holding more power than its workers, or in other terms, the bourgeoisie having more control in society than the proletariat.

But there is more than one form of power, as John French and Bertram Raven divided the phenomenon into five distinct groups. The chart above describes them.

How do you feel about power in society? Share your thoughts below. 

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