Sociology- power

This is all about and the concept sociologists use to study power relationships

Defining power

The sources of power:coercion and authority

Coercive power involves the threat or use of for including physical violence,torture or blackmale. People who are coerced into obeying an individual or a group do so because they feel they have no choice in the matter.

Authority is exercised over people when they willingly agree to obey an individual group because they see this as the right thing to do. Force is not necessary because people give their consent. A teacher, for instance,exercises authority over pupils when they willingly hand in their completed homework for marking.

Power in democracies

In some political systems, ower is concentrated in a few hands while in others it is distributed moer widely. In many states, such as the Unied Kingdom, the political system is based on democracy. Literally, democracy means government by the people in a democracy, power is istribued widely and the government's power is based on authority.


When you are writing about the concept of ciizenship, it is important to bear in mind that the erm is used in several different ways, it can refer to:

  • A political and legal status linked to membership of a particular state. All UK citizens have full legal rights (for exampel, to be treated equally before the law) as well as responsibilities (such as paying taxes and obeying the law)
  • Active involvement in public life and participation in the political process. The term 'active citiznship' is sometimes used to describe activities such as joining a pressure group or a political party, voting in elections or taking an interet in current affairs.

Active citizenship is seen as a key feature of democracies. For instance, if citizens participate actively in the political process then this can help to make governments more responsive to public opinion.

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Saffron Liaquat


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