UNIVERSITY OF FREE STATE DEPARTMENT OF POLITICAL STUDIES AND GOVERNANCE.
Topic: Discuss politics of power by explaining each of the ‘faces’ of power that can be found in the real world.
Name : Relebogile Magoma
Student number: 2017069044
Lecturer : Mrs. Alta Vermeulen
Due date :13 April 2018
I have read the UFS policy on plagiarism as set out in the study guide and I am familiar with its contents and the department/university penalty clauses. I declare that the enclosed assignment is my own work, that I have acknowledge all my sources, that I have not lent out my work to fellow student.
Signature: R. Magoma Date: 13 April 2018
Table of contents
Faces of power
2. Academic content……………………………………..
2.1. Power as decision making………………………4
2.2. Power as agenda setting…………………………5
2.3. Power as thought control………………………..5
3. Conclusion & Reference……………………………6
This assignment will be based on the three faces of power namely; power as decision-making, power as agenda setting and power as thought of control. These faces are found in the political world. Politics are activities associated with the governance of a country or area, especially the debate between parties which are in power.In politics we tend to have this three faces which are also known as dimensions of politics which Stephan Lukes also saw them in that perspective. Stephan described three faces of power in his work while studying politics and the society. The basic principle is the power and consequent effectiveness of a group based on three distinct aspect. This view of politics sees politics at work in all social activities and in every corner of human existence. The first face is power as decision making. The classic idea of political power, as in the government has power to make decisions. Most political actions are centred on gaining this type of power towards your cause. You compete in elections to get this power, in a way, you persuade your MP to get them to use this power. The second stage is about agendas, which is a less obvious sort of power. It considers which decisions were never made.The decisions that the government is making are about particular things, these things are the agenda. The agenda is not fixed so there is the power of getting things on/off the agenda. The third stage is known as power as thought of control, it is a face of persuasion; in particular manipulating people’s interests. It influences another by dictating what he or she thinks. (Lukes, 1974: 39).
2. Conceptual orientation
The social structures of power are used by Boulding to address the distribution of power. He argues that power in groups tends to be a class system. Decision-making roles develop as a result of human limitations on the ability to communicate. Instructions flow down the class system, while information flows up. Within a ranking structure, available knowledge restricts power. Boulding also argues that “hierarchical power cannot survive unless it can be legitimated. Authority in some sense is always granted from below.”p. 44 Examples of structures of power involve the institution of property and the nation-state. Power structures generally depend on a multiplex mix of the three types of power. Boulding says that the role of integrative power in sustain structures is both the most crucial, yet the least recognized and understood. (Boulding, 1989: 44).
3. Case study: Faces of power
The vital purpose of attaining political power is to use it to outline and control public policy-public policy in general or some aspect of public policy. Those who have political power and use it to influence, shape, and control the political behaviour of others–whether to influence a decision of a political party or a political action committee, to impact on the outcome of an election, to influence the decisions and actions of government offices and institutions, or to obtain for themselves election or appointment to public office and thereby gain personally the legal right to actively and officially participate in the processes of authoritative decision-making by the government–are concerned eventually with influencing, conditioning, shaping, and controlling the content and direction of public policy. Political power is acquired and exercised in order to significantly affect the government’s authoritative decisions and actions on public policy–either decision-making and action on public policy in general or decision-making and action in a particular area of public policy (let’s say, public education, national health insurance, immigration, drug enforcement, civil rights, affirmative action, taxation, energy policy, environmental protection, gun control, or regulation of abortion). (Dahl, 1957: 202-215).
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights in south Africa identifies the right of every individual to partake in the government of her or his country.1 Equal access to power, decision-making and leadership at all levels is an essential condition for the suitable functioning of democracy. Ensuring women’s freedom to participate in politics, both as voters and as representatives, has been central to international, regional and national efforts aimed at more inclusive and democratic governance. These freedoms and rights are not limited to politics but extend to participation and leadership in public life, the private sector and civil society in general. Department 🙁 South Africa. Universal declaration of human rights.2001).
In the United nations here are few examples of decision making examples:2015, on average, women represent 28 per cent of candidates in political elections for single or lower chambers of national parliaments and hold 22 per cent of parliament seats—almost double the level recorded in 1997 (12 per cent). Women preside over the lower or single houses of parliament in 28 out of 190 countries (15 per cent), and over the upper house or senate in 15 out of 76 countries (20 per cent). It shows that judgements were made about who power by analysing decisions in the light of had known preferences of the actors involved.
Sometimes political theorists talk about this power over non-decisions as “agenda-setting power. “The person or persons who set the agenda–for a meeting, for an election campaign, for a legislative assembly–control what will and will not be decided. Everyone else may or may not be aware that power is being exercised over them.
Lukes’s best-known, still controversial academic theory is his so-called ‘radical’ view of power. It can be simply stated. It claims there are three dimensions of power. The first is overt power, typically exhibited in the presence of conflict in decision-making situations, where power consists in winning that is prevailing over another or others. The second is covert power, consisting in control over what gets decided, by ignoring or bouncing existing grievances. And the third is the power to shape desires and beliefs, thereby stopping both war and grievances. The first is the most public of the three and is how the powerful usually want to be seen: for instance, the power of political leaders to make policy decisions after widespread discussion with opposition parties and the wider public. The second face is the power to control agendas. It has been called the ‘mobilization of bias,’ reinforcing the powerful by excluding threatening issues from discussion in public forums. The third kind of power can be the most insidious. It is the most hidden from view—the least reachable to observation by social actors and observers alike. It can be at work, notwithstanding apparent consensus between the powerful and the powerless. It is the power to influence people’s wishes and thoughts, inducing them to want things opposed to what would advantage them and to fail to want what they would, but for such power, recognize to be in their real interests. (Luke, 1974:25)
Even though the trouble seems to be that both Bachrach and Baratz and the pluralists suppose that because power, as they conceptualize it, only shows up in cases of actual conflict, it follows that actual conflict is necessary to power. But this is to ignore the crucial point that the most effective and insidious use of power is to prevent such conflict from arising in the first place. (Bachrach, 1962: 15).
And when coming to agenda face there was in many places big firms who damage the environment putting pressure of government/media not to pay any attention to campaigners. The campaigners were trying to raise public attentiveness so people asked questions, wanted to have it in manifestos, the media had an area of interest to respond to etc. So between the campaigners and firms there was a 2nd face power struggle to decide what we talk about/care about/make decisions about. The third faces is all about persuasion. A Marxist example is the easiest to give, it gets across the idea even if you don’t agree with the Marxist perspective. The working class’ conception of their own interest has been manipulated by capitalists so that they think capitalism is in their own interest rather than communism. Marketing, education, frames of reference etc all convince the working class that having money/things is desirable and that capitalism provides everyone the opportunity to do that .(Luke, 1974:27).
All politics is about power – achieving and preserving it – Hobbes – basic human urge is to seek ‘power after power’. Programmed – Dawkins’ selfish gene. Conservative viewpoint. The ability to get someone to do something they otherwise wouldn’t do – ‘power to’. Notable with authority by power being the ability to do and authority right to do. Distinction from influence – aptitude to affect outcome even if not having actual final power to decide – influence is a minor form of power by moving their actions without inciting force/fear – e.g. manipulation. Lukes sees power in three forms: decision-making, agenda setting and thought control. Decision-making – associated with liberal and pluralist perceptions focusing on who actually makes the decisions. Boulding argues decision-making influenced in three ways: the stick (coercion), the deal (mutual benefit through negotiation), and the kiss (sense of loyalty and commitment to individual, thus he has power).
Dahl observed decision-making ‘Critique of the ruling elite model’ and found no single elite in charge, pluralist approach, everyone has a say. Different groups have a say on different aspects. Reality was an “example of a democratic system warts and all”
In conclusion politics is, in nature, the ability to use whatever means necessary to achieve objectives. Politics is about variety and disputes but majorly focuses on the insufficiency of human resources, needs and desires. It is also about oppression and domination. In politics, people with a lot of power are critical as they have the ability to control the decisions being made within the country and also what/how people think. Thus, the three faces of power should be considered with consideration of the dangers associated with corruption and misuse of power. It is in a broad sense that faces of power can be found within families and friends just like it’s found amongst nations and worldwide. These faces help the population or a certain country to achieve obedience and to have jurisdiction for it to gain a sense of direction.
Bachrach, P. and Baratz, M. (1962). Two Faces of Power, American Political Science Review, 56, 947-52.
Dahl, R.A. (1957). The Concept of Power, Behavioral Science, 2, 3, 201-215
Lukes, S. (1974). Power: A Radical View. London: Macmillan Press.
Revision world networks. 2007. power, authority and legitimacy theory. ONLINE Available at: https://revisionworld.com/a2-level-level-revision/politics/power-authority-legitimacy-theory. Accessed 13 April 2018
BIBLIOGRAPHY l 1033 Andrew, H. (2013). Politics. Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan.