Power and Politics Research Essay

The concepts of politics and power are very closely interconnected. Very often when we speak about politics we assume power and vice verse. What is notable, in politics power can be visible and hidden, when people influence events and other people but stay away from publicity. Formal power is usually easy to recognize. All political leaders, who often appear in public, have this type of power. This type of power has a lot of advantages, such as money, privileges, respect and ability to promote one’s plans and ideas. It also has disadvantages, such as high expectations from others, threat to exceed the power and lack of privacy. Informal political power is more difficult to understand. At the same time it has longer effect as people are not elected and do not display their personalities.

In general the politics is regarded as the use of power, Richard Nixon once wrote: “The great leader needs the capacity to achieve. Power is the opportunity to build, to create, to nudge history in a different direction” (Salancik and Pfeffer, 1977.) John Gardner gives his own concept of power. He describes it as a basic energy, necessary to initiate to start action or the capacity to fulfil one’s intentions and make them real. Dahl had his own explanation of the concept of power. He states that “The concept of power is as ancient and ubiquitous as any that social theory can boast”, and defined the power “as a relation among social actors in which one actor A, can get another social actor B, to do something that B would not otherwise have done.” Hence, power is recognized as “the ability of those who possess power to bring about the outcomes they desire” (Salancik and Pfeffer, 1977). The power is the influence, which changes actions and attitudes of people. Politicians use their power in order to have things done and to protect the interests of certain groups or individuals. Such specialists as Bolman and Deal distinguish four frames, which constitute the structure of the modern world. These frames are structural, symbolic, human and political ones. Political frame is a field of study of organizational politics and motivations of those, who make political decisions.

There are a lot of theories, which explain the origins of people’s longing for power. For most of the individuals power symbolizes additional resources and ability to give orders to other people. Resources can differ and can be presented by additional financial profits, better level of service, etc.

“Particularly as decision issues become more complex and outcomes become more uncertain, power becomes more attractive as a tool for reducing uncertainty. Power and the ability to use it are essential to effective leadership” (Jocobs, 1996). The core stone of the political leaders is their motivations or the reasons, which make them seek power. There are statistics, which states that only about 12 percent of population want to have power in any sphere of life and same statistics state, that only about 6 percent have natural abilities to be good leaders. Unfortunately in modern politics there are a lot of people, who strive for power but do not have natural born abilities to be political leaders. There are two kinds of motivations, which make people seek for political power. Personal reasons, such as money or prestige, make some people look for high political positions. In this case people use political power for their service and think little about those, who elect them. The cases of power abuse are very often in this kind of situation. Another motivation, which makes people seek the political power is a desire to bring their ideas to the society. “It is not enough to want power or even to have it. It must be used creatively. And, it must be enjoyed. The use of power as a weapon of aggression makes monsters of us. Power must be the servant, not the master,” states Michael Korda, an expert on the question about the power (Korda, 207). Unfortunately, nowadays political power very often becomes an aim, not the mean and people strive for power in order to fulfil their own ambitions and use it as a source of personal profit, while it was originally designed as a way elected people realized the will of all the rest of the population. In modern society there is no or very little separation between the power and business that makes people regard power not only as means to self realization and serving to people but a source of extra income and personal profit.

1. Korda, M. Power! How to Get It, How to Use It. Warner Books, 1991
2. Jacobs, T.O. 1996. Strategic pitfalls and opportunities: power and politics. In A Course Text Strategic Decision Making. Washington, DC: Industrial College of the Armed Forces, National Defense University,
3. Salancik, C. R., and J. Pfeffer. 1977. Who gets power—and how they hold on to it:a strategic contingency model of power. Organizational Dynamics 5: 3-21.

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