2005_09_14_sss - Power: Interpersonal, Organizational, and...

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Power: Interpersonal, Organizational, and Global Dimensions Wednesday, 14 September 2005 TOPIC: continue elaborating definition of power as capacity to produce intended and foreseen effects on others. Professor Silbey tells us the story of aliens observing the humans. They observe that the cars stop for traffic lights and infer that the traffic lights are totems -- causal artifacts. This goes to show how observable behavior can be misleading because it doesn't include the whole story. Something about how people think must be included! * Power is enacted and exercised rather than owned. Reviewing exercises class completed on first day of the course. Examples of power. For example, a senator votes with the president in order to obtain future favors. But we don't know what the president thinks – and we need to know the response to be able to discern whether or not power was exercised. How can we reliably discern someone's motivations ? What can we learn from just observing? We must situate the subject in a universe of forces within which the person acts . But Dahl argued that it is unreliable to go into people's heads, to try and mete out motivations. Example: A random man stands on the side of the road and commands that the cars drive on the right side of the road. The cars do, of course, but not because of the man. In another instance, a policeman stands in the road and directs traffic, and the cars follow his commands. This traffic example is a reversal of the earlier senator example. But what is the difference between the policeman and the random man? We must recognize the difference between correlation and causation: Rules of the road are independent of the random man's behavior. But the policeman has authority and people fear his threat. Here we've gotten inside people's heads. There are several elements here: First, using Dahl's conceptual language, A's (policeman) power has a source/base, set of resources open to exploitation . The different resources of power manifest in different forms. Because power derives from recourses (capacity to achieve effects), A's range/scope of power is limited to the specific arena in which his/her resources play/exist . Second, we have information about the intentions of the power holder and the state of the object of power – the drivers of the cars. The objects of power (drivers) are influenced by the policeman because they know something about the police; they have information and experience that frames the observable behavior. They know that if they do not follow the policeman's
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2005_09_14_sss - Power: Interpersonal, Organizational, and...

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