Power and authority

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  • Power and Authority
    • What is power?
      • Power is the ability of an individual or a group of people to influence outcomes in their favour.
        • Power can be granted legitimately through elections, or taken illegitimately through coercion
    • What is authority?
      • Authority is when people accept your right to rule, consenting to it.
        • Weber's 3 types of authority
          • Traditional authority. This is the right to exercise power based on one's position within society- Monarch's are a good example of this.
          • Charismatic authority is when someone gains power through their personality. This can happen in all types of government, like Barack Obama in the US and Hitler in Nazi Germany.
          • Legal authority is the right for someone to exercise power based on the legal right that they have been given. This legal authority is mostly given through elections, as the electorate have therefor given their right for the leader to rule, this agrees with the basic principles of democracy.
    • State authority and political stability
      • All states seek authority because it increases state stability. State stability increases the authority of a state, here are some ways state stability can be increased.
        • Policy success- Clinton's economic success countered the Lewinsky scandal.         Social Cohesion- UK in the 1950s was cohesive which increased state stability.
      • By the same measure, states authority can be decreased by political instability.
        • Policy failure- Despite the success of Weimar Germany in the early 1920s the Great Depression and economic downturn that followed created mass unemployment in Germany that  led to the public going against them and voting the radical Hitler into power.
        • Social Divison- Social division can create political instability and sometimes even lead to civil war like Northern Ireland during the trouble.
    • Coercion
      • This is one type of political power and involves the use of force to exercise power. This makes it an illegitimate way to exercise power
        • Examples of states that use coercion
          • HIitler's nazi Germany was famous for its coercive tactics. It used methods like internment on minority groups/ groups that spoke out against the government, the use of a secret police (gestapo) to maintain control over the people and the use of force against political opponents. this shows that although Hitler gained power legitimately he used coercion to hold power and maintain control.
          • The Soviet Union was another famous state for its coercive methods, particularly in Eastern Europe when they controlled satellite states  amidst the perceived threat from the west. they used coercion, force and police state to maintain their control over the people.
      • Types of coercion
        • imprisonment without trial was one effective form of coercion for states, it allowed them to get rid of opponents with ease and encourage conformity within society.
        • Use of military/ physical force was another effective way for states to control the people as it made the government look strong and made the people scared to oppose them.
        • police state was another common and effective way to control the masses as they would be afraid to speak out, because if they did they may be captured, tortured and killed.


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