Political power essence, basic features and types of power. Concept of power icon

Political power essence, basic features and types of power. Concept of power

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  1. Essence, basic features and types of power. Concept of power.

  2. Definition, sources, structure and basic functions of the political power. Modern concepts of power classification.

  3. Resources and distinctive features of power. Problem of effectiveness, legality and legitimacy of political power.

Concept of power. Modern concepts of power classification.

Political power as one of the major displays of power is characterised by real ability of the given class, group or individuals reflecting their interests to lead their will by means of politics and rules of law”.

Essence, content and forms of the political power

Problem of effectiveness, legality and legitimacy of the political power

The first attempts to understand paradoxes and mechanisms of the political power were undertaken during the ancient period of political history of India, China and Greece.

And, possibly, not casually, that the Ancient Greek word 'arche' - 'power ' or ' domination ' - had also other meaning - 'primary source' or 'original cause'.

Till now in sharp scientific and political debates, there is a question whom power in our country really belongs to: the people or ruling class, the nomenclature or mafia, economic elite or a small group of ambitious men-oligarchs.

The power plays a dual role, being either necessary and expedient mechanism of people's communication, ruling of society, or malicious and antihuman force as it was two decades ago in Kampuchea where ' the revolutionary regime' on behalf of people's power killed about one third or quarter of the population of this country.

But already during the early periods of history of political thought the second side of power phenomenon, namely its alienating and aloof nature was noticed. Aristotle (and later Montesquieu) marked danger of the power abuse, its alienation from ordinary citizens when possessing the power use it for the private advantage instead of general welfare. Different recipes of overcoming of power alienation were offered: from the idea of 'mixed' authorities (Polybius, Machiavelli) and divisions of authorities (Locke, Montesquieu, Hegel) to full liquidation of government together with the state (Godwin and Stirner, Bakunin and Kropotkin).

Power genesis as mechanism regulating social dialogue, is interesting to the analysis of nature and phenomenology of power relations. Political ethnography has examples when social structures being rather primitive, coped on the basis of relatively symmetric equality, avoiding sharp asymmetry and alienation, inherent in modern relations of power. There are cases when communities didn't have chief at all, existing on the basis of full self-governing (autocracy) and self-regulation of collective life by means of traditions and customs, rules and norms.

For the first, power and influence relations are localised within the limits of blood-related connections, being based on sex and age division of labour. The considerable part of administrative functions is carried out by the family-patrimonial collective itself representing in many respects both the subject, and object of governing.

Symmetry of relations between chieftains, leaders and ordinary people is especially evident in such form of formed power relations as military democracy. In this tribal form studied by L. Morgan and described in his work ' the Ancient Society ' on the example of Iroquois, power and influence are in balanced enough condition when there is no assymetric inequality and aloof opposition of the ruling and ruled inherent in the state forms of communication. Decision-making process about procedure and tradition should consider will of both the 'ruling' (council of wisemen and military chieftain) and 'ruled' (meeting of ordinary people in community) whose influence in a number of the important questions was approximately equal.

But in the first states asymmetry in relations between the power of the ruling and influence of the ruled starts to amplify sharply. It is brightly visible on the example of the state history of Ancient Egypt when the yesterday's leader of a tribe gradually becomes the monarch, and then the Pharaoh, 'the live god' whose relations with an ordinary peasant can be described as relation 'between heaven and earth'. As a result of political genesis the state power as asymmetric and ambivalent relation between the ruling and ruled, which put state and its citizens in different 'weight categories' from the point of view of their force is formed. Political dialogue of relatives by birth, still relatively equal on потестарному status and influence of people, is replaced by aloof relations of domination and submission, based on administrative apparatus of compulsion and violence.

^ Three basic ways of political genesis

1. military way when institutionalisation of public power occurs at the expense of eminence and isolation of the institute of 'the military leader', his military units and administrative apparatus, consisting of his relatives and confidants (Ancient Sumer).

2. aristocratic way when representatives of tribal aristocracy ('great' soldiers, elders, hunters, pagan priests, etc.) gradually become carriers of the public power which concentrate military, religious and administrative ruling in their hands.

3. plutocratic way is connected with accumulation of material resources by separate tribesmen, formation of numerous supporters around him, gradual transformation of authority and prestige of the rich and strong leader (phenomenon of 'bigman') owing to the administrative power.

All these three ways lead to the same point - formation of isolated and aloof from the community administrative apparatus of ruling, asymmetric and ambivalent structure of relations of the public power.

Political power is a social phenomenon, authority, power, tradition.

Different forms: pre-state (parents, chieftains)

State (Supreme Council, leadership, elite, mass-media)

Over-state - the Internet beyond the limits of national sovereignties.

Cratology is a branch of the political science studying peculiarities of the power («cratos» - power)

Cratologists understand power in three meanings:

As system of mutual relations of command and submission in certain social community (students - group management, parties, movements)

As a volitional element which is expressed in ability of one subjects to impose their will to the other

Set of institutes which is capable to provide public order and integrity of the state.

POLITICAL POWER is ability and possibility to carry out key influence on activity and behaviour of people by means of will, authority, law, violence, that is not always issued in the form of the administrative mechanism of politics.

M. Weber understands power as any possibility to lead one's own will in the given public relations, even contrary to resistance, without dependence on what such possibility is based '


Political power not always state power, but state power is always political one

State power is specific because only it has compulsion monopoly (monopoly on violence) and the right to pass laws, but the political power often has great power thanks to the latent influence. State power changes, political power remains. When political power changes, state power changes too.

State power is the higher form of the political power which is based on special power-administrative apparatus.

In the Western political science there are 4 approaches (concepts) for studying and understanding of power as public phenomenon:

Behaviourist concept

Nietzsche, Russell, Skinner - how many to wait for the superperson, not always talented but good motivated person wins.

The origin of political power has always psychological basis which divides people into those who rules and those who submits.

Teleological approach. (Parsons)

Power is a way of market relations, it is extracted during severe struggle. It is a stimulus, symbol. It is not enough to have power, it is necessary to use it well.

Instrumental approach. (Toffler)

Power is simply a set of certain tools, the main things from which are force, wealth and knowledge.

Structural approach.

Power is a structure of interpersonal dialogue which is based on awards and punishments.


Essence - who it works for

Content - who it belongs to

Form - how, by what methods it is carried out, what institutes it is formed by.

Depending on how these 3 concepts relate to each other, there can be different typology.

Mechanism of power has complex, hierarchic structure where the formal primary subject and sourcce of power is the people who transfer power to the officially mediated agent - the state which, in its turn, distributes them among 'carriers' (legislative, executive and judicial branches of power) and the central, regional and local authorities to operate public affairs ('object' of power) on behalf of society and through the state ('the subject' of power).

According to the subjects power can be:

Personal (father, friend)

Group (lobbies, trade unions, movements)

Institutional (party, government, local authorities)

According to the form of governing:

Monarchy - A monarchy is a form of government in which supreme power is absolutely or nominally lodged in an individual, who is the head of state, often for life or until abdication, and "is wholly set apart from all other members of the state. The person who heads a monarchy is called a monarch. It was a common form of government in the world during the ancient and medieval times.

Tyranny. A tyrant carries modern connotations of a harsh and cruel ruler who places his or her own interests or the interests of a small oligarchy over the best interests of the general population which the tyrant governs or controls. However, in the classical sense, the word simply means one who has taken power by their own means as opposed to hereditary or constitutional power (and generally without the modern connotations).

Aristocracy is a form of government, in which a few of the most prominent citizens rule. This may be a hereditary elite, or it may be by a system of cooption where a council of prominent citizens add leading soldiers, merchants, land owners, priests, and lawyers to their number.

Oligarchy is a form of government where power effectively rests with a small elite segment of society distinguished by royalty, wealth, family, military influence or religious hegemony.

Theocracy is a form of government in which a god or deity is recognized as the state's supreme civil ruler, or in a broader sense, a form of government in which a state is governed by immediate divine guidance or by officials who are regarded as divinely guided. For believers, theocracy is a form of government in which divine power governs an earthly human state, either in a personal incarnation or, more often, via religious institutional representatives (i.e., a church, replacing or dominating civil government.

Ochlocracy is government by mob or a mass of people, or the intimidation of constitutional authorities. In English, the word mobocracy is sometimes used as a synonym .

Democracyis a system of government for the people chosen by the people in which political control is exercised by all people either directly, or through their elected representatives. Democracy is a form of government in which power is held directly or indirectly by citizens under a free electoral system.



Technocracy is a form of government in which engineers, scientists, and other technical experts are in control. Technocracy is a governmental or organizational system where decision makers are selected based upon how highly knowledgeable they are, rather than how much political capital they hold.

According to the form of openness: opened, hidden, shadow, closed.

Sources of power - authority, force, prestige, law, wealth, knowledge, charisma, secret, interest

Power resources - economic, social, cultural, information, force, demographic, ecological

Functions of political power:








Characteristic features of the state power

Legality of use of power

Leadership and compulsion of decisions for other power structures

Multicentric strructure

Variety of resources

Effectiveness - demonstrative ability of political system to adaptation in new conditions which is provided by support of masses. Indicators of effectiveness of power are parity between the accepted and realised decisions, income level per capita, inflation index in the society.

Legality is formal judicial legality of the established power.

Legitimacy of power at support of masses. Power which people trust.

Legitimacy crisis has its features:

Growth of crimes and juvenile delinquency

Capital outflow abroad

Growth of oppositional moods in society

High level of absenteeism.

Weber distinguishes three types of domination:

1) traditional (on the basis of tradition and custom);

2) legal (based on purposeful motives and, in particular, law principles), 3) charismatic (it is based on belief).

The concept of a political mode appeared in the western political science in 19th century, and it came into a wide scientific circulation after the Second World War.

In politics, a regime is the form of government: the set of rules, cultural or social norms, etc. that regulate the operation of government and its interactions with society.

Political regime - set of the open and latent elements which define the content and character of relations between

The state and civil society

Government branches

The centre and regions

The state and pressure groups

Electoral system and forms of the state

Ideological and not ideological forms of political compulsion

Classical - totalitarian, authoritative, democratic

Лейпхарт is based on level of mutual relations between authorities and an electoral system





What public authorities are presented and as have achieved the power.

Selective system - set of selective procedures, предусмотреных the law and the authorities connected with formation.


Representation parliament, the head regional and city гос.администраций

Is executive-administrative and administrative. The president, ministry, госадминистарция at different levels

Judicial influences on level

City, regional - on ter.-admin.priznaku

On a field of activity: constitutional, economic, military, administrative, criminal, civil

Office of Public Prosecutor in Russia, Ukraine and Spain

In other countries operates within the limits of judicial authorities.


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