Power relations: definition, criteria and features

Power relations: definition, criteria and features
Power relations: definition, criteria and features

Power is the dream of many and the opportunity of the few. The quality of life of society as a whole and of each of its members directly depends on how it managed to regulate relations in matters of control and subordination. Power relations arose with organized society and will only die with it.


This term has many definitions, but they all come down to this: power is the ability and ability to induce or force another person or group to do their will, even against resistance. A tool for fulfilling the set goals - personal, state, class, group. A double-edged sword, depending on who wields it.

power relations

Power Relations

This is a reciprocal connection about command and submission. This is a relationship in which the manager imposes his will on the subordinate. To carry out his will, he uses law and law, methods of persuasion and coercion.

Power and power relations do not imply equality. They hold on to the will, strength, authority and charisma of one and voluntary or forced consent.submit to another. It is an integral part of the life of society.

Society is a complex system, an organism that needs constant regulation to maintain the efficiency of the entire system.

Every person thinks of himself first. This is an innate selfishness or a sense of self-preservation. It is this feeling that pushes him to actions that, from his point of view, are good, but prevent others from living. And when everyone is guided by this rule, chaos inevitably ensues.

The counterbalance to "confusion and vacillation" is the system of power relations at every level, in every sphere of society. From the family to the state or alliance of states, everything rests on an orderly relationship that governs the rights and obligations of each and every one.

What are they?

The emergence of power relations is possible only if there are two parties, one of which acts as a manager, and the second as a subordinate. This concept includes three components:

  1. The subject of power relations is the one who can command. One who has the ability and ability to influence the behavior of others. It can be a president, king, director, head of an organization, family, informal leader.
  2. The object is the executor. The person or group on which the impact (influence) of the subject is directed. Or, to put it simply, everyone who is not a subject of power is its object. The same person or group can be in the role of both at the same time. For example, a minister: in relation to deputies, he is the head, and in relation to the headgovernment - subordinate.
  3. Another integral component of power relations is the resource - the means that provide the leading person with the opportunity to influence the object. Reward the performer for the completed task, punish for non-fulfillment. Or for persuasion, when the first two means do not work or it is undesirable to use them.

The concepts included in the first two paragraphs are aspects of power relations.

Resource is the broadest and most voluminous concept of these components. These are means, real or potential, that can serve to strengthen power by strengthening the subject or weakening the object of influence. They occupy a special place in the structure of power relations, because without them the influence will be reduced to nothing.

It could be:

  • economic resources - gold reserves, money, land, natural resources;
  • social resources - social benefits, such as position in society, the prestige of the work performed, education, position, privileges, authority;
  • cultural and information resources – knowledge and information, as well as the means of obtaining and disseminating them. By possessing information and controlling its dissemination, those in power control minds;
  • administrative and security forces - government agencies, army, police, court, prosecutor's office, various security services.

What types of relationships are there?

Power relations in society can be divided into three large groups according to subject composition:

  • political;
  • corporate;
  • social;
  • cultural-informational.

According to the ways of interaction between the controlling and subordinate parties, the relationship can be divided into:

Totalitarian - the subject of power can be one person or a small group. Complete control over the actions of subordinates or the people, up to personal life

totalitarian power relations

Authoritarian - one person or a small group governs. Everything that is not related to politics and major decisions is allowed

Authoritarian power relations

Democratic - the subject of power in democratic power relations cannot be one person. Governed by a small group, chosen by the majority and accountable to him. The most important decisions are made after discussion and agreement of the objects of power

democratic power relations

Features of governance in politics

Political power is the most important pillar of the state and society. An imbalance in it will provoke upheavals at all other levels of the organization of the life of society and the individual.

Political power is divided into several levels:

  • state;
  • regional;
  • local;
  • party.

Control-subordination relations in politics have their own characteristics:

  1. Rely on the power of the state, which has a monopoly on coercion. Implemented both by the state apparatus and by parties, associations, social groups.
  2. The parties to them are notindividuals, but groups or nations.

The main condition for the stability of power relations in politics is the legitimacy of power.

The legitimacy of power is the recognition by those on whom the influence is directed, the right of the leader to control, and the consent to obey him. If the majority of society does not agree that the person or party that is “at the helm” has the right to do so and can provide the people with a decent life, it will cease to obey. Thus, power relations between them will cease to exist. Or there will be a replacement of the subject of these relations, and they will continue.

Features of corporate management-subordination relations

Power relations in the economic sphere are distinguished by the fact that only material goods act as a resource in them. They act both as a reward and as a punishment - a bonus for good work, deprivation of payment for wrongdoing.

The subjects in them are large companies nationwide, and owners and managers on the scale of one company.

corporate power relations

In the social sphere

The main resource in these relationships is status. Social power relations often intersect with corporate ones, since the status of a person or group in most cases is determined by the presence of material we alth. The more money and property, the higher the position in society.

Social Power Relations

In the cultural and information sphere

Here the main resource is knowledge and information.Through them, an influence is exerted on the minds and behavior of both the people as a whole and individuals. The main subjects of these relations are the media, scientific and religious organizations.

The main method of influence in this area is persuasion, changing the consciousness of the masses based on the charisma and authority of the subjects. The main difference from others is the lack of a resource for coercion. The only punishment can be deprivation of information.

cultural-informational power relations

So, our whole life is permeated with power relations. Starting from the state and ending with the family, everything rests on the will of one and the subordination of the other. Power relations are a guarantee of order and the common good, if persuasion is a priority resource for the subjects of power.

Of course, one cannot do without the resource of coercion. Nobody canceled the method of stick and carrot, and it is effective like no other. But when the priority is given to the resources of coercion, a crisis inexorably ensues. Objects of power cease to obey, and relationships cease to exist.

Termination of relationships affects each of the parties, and there is a need to create new ones. And most often, as a result of such a development of events, the subject of power becomes the one who has a better command of the resource of persuasion.

The best power relations are those based on democracy. That is, those in which both sides act both as subjects and as objects of power. In such relationships, those in power, while governing a society, state or organization, are at the same time accountable to those who control them.chose.

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