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June 4, 2013 / C H Thompson

Lukes perspective of power

by Sam Cook a former student

Stephen Lukes’ perspective on power

Though Weber’s definition is accepted by many sociologists as their starting point in understanding power in society, many sociologists thought it was too narrow a definition. In 1974 Stephen Lukes’ put forward his ‘radical’ view of power.

According to Stephen Lukes there are three faces of power rather than one which is explained in accessible detail when applied to the family.

1.THE FIRST FACE OF POWER: SUCCESS IN DECISION MAKING

  • Pluralists have adopted this approach. Pluralist theories argue that power can be seen from the outcome of a decision making process. Whoever gets their way has all the power!
  • Example, A has power over B to the extent that he can get B to do something that B would not otherwise do. This is evident in the clip below:

2.THE SECOND FACE OF POWER: MANAGING THE AGENDA

  • Critics of the pluralist view, such as Peter Bachrah argue that simply studying decision making ignores a second dimension of power: the ability to control the agenda of debate. The media has the ability to setting the agenda
  • In their view real power lies in the ability to prevent certain issues from being seriously considered. This is evident in the clip below:

3.THE THIRD FACE OF POWER: MANIPULATING THE WISHES OF OTHERS.

  • Power is the ability to shape the wishes and desires of others……without them even knowing!
  • This 3rd face or dimension of power is known as Lukes radical view of power because it is so different! This is evident in the clip below:

We can explore this in real-life circumstances by examining the role of power within the family. using the structure of illustrated below.

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