We explain what power is and what types of power exist in a society. In addition, political, military and science power.

Power allows you to impose your own will within a social relationship.

What is power?

The word power is one of the most used in different areas of the society and often with different meanings. It comes from the Latin verb potere, whose origin is found in the expression pot is ("It may be" or "it is possible"), where our Spanish verb power comes from, that is, to be capable of something. So, in principle, the noun Power is the ability of something or someone to make something else possible.

Thus, having power commonly means having the ability to make certain things happen. The powerful (that is, those who have power) are those who make things possible, who determine whether something happens or not. This implies having the necessary capacities to do so, whatever they may be: social, legal, military, economic, etc.

In our societies, the idea of ​​power is also associated with that of authority. In fact, we call "authorities" those who, through various institutions social and political, we grant (ideally) the power or the leadership of our societies, so that the most complex decisions are made on behalf of all.

But power can also be seized by certain social sectors, or put at the service of selfish interests. Perhaps that is why the German philosopher and jurist Max Weber (1864-1920) defined power as the “probability to impose one's own will within a social relationship, even against all resistance and whatever the basis of that probability may be ”.

Many social Sciences are dedicated to the study of power or its mechanisms within society, such as the sociology, political science or right. Each of them understands it in their own way and proposes their tools of analysis.

Types of power

According to the social psychologists John R. French and Bertram Raven, in 1959, power can be classified according to six different "forms", which are:

  • The coercive power. One who uses a threat or intimidation to get the other to comply with an authority. This may include physical, social, emotional or financial means, and the coercion need not necessarily be evident, nor should the person in power be aware of it.
  • The power of reward. One who, on the contrary, offers a prize or remuneration to whoever follows his designs. These rewards can be tangible or intangible, and positive (rewards) or negative (punishments).
  • Legitimate power. That which the institutions emanate, that is, that comes from a position of authority chosen or designated in accordance with the law, and not usurped by force. It is a formal power, which occupies a rung in the hierarchy of society.
  • The power of reference. Also known as influence, it is a type of power that depends on the affiliations or the groups to which we belong, and it is accessed indirectly, that is, by proximity to a power of another type. This is the case, for example, of those who are friends or close to a powerful politician, being able to influence his decisions or obtain preferential treatment from him. Condition.
  • Expert power. He who builds an authority based on the knowledge accumulated, in specialized knowledge or professionals, or in special talents and abilities. It manifests itself through credentials, reputation, and other ways of exposing experience.
  • The informative power. That which is detached from the control or management that a social actor has over the information that the public consumes, that is, the power to manipulate or manage information and with it public opinion. However, it is not only owned by media, but also the personsParents, for example, have this kind of power over their children.

Political power

Political power is, in easy terms, the power that copsIn other words, the power that the people delegate to the State to make the most difficult decisions regarding the management of society on their behalf. It is the power that public institutions administer, that is, the public Power. As such, it is organized into three different and independent powers, according to the tradition republican:

  • The executive power. Also called government, who is elected in the democracies by popular vote and administered by a head of state (usually a President or Prime Minister, but it can also be a King or something like that), and by his cabinet of ministers and governors and mayors. It deals with the political leadership of the State, that is, the decision making regarding how to distribute its resources and where to direct society.
  • The legislative power. Who resides in Parliament or the Legislative Assembly, within which the different political parties of a nation, in different proportions according to the popular vote that elected them, and that are in charge of giving the political debate regarding the laws and to the administration of budgets, or the approval of special powers for the executive, to mention some functions. They are a control body, which limits the executive through laws, and which can be made up of one or two chambers of debate (deputies and senators).
  • The power of attorney. In charge of the interpretation of the laws within the framework of the norms of the National Constitution, and of exercising the sanctions or reparations necessary to guarantee the Justice and the peace social in the community. It is made up of a hierarchical structure of courts, at the head of which is usually the Supreme Court. The members of this power are not elected by suffrage, but appointed by the other two powers in consensus.

Military power

Military powers can impose certain terms on weaker nations.

Military power or military power is the strength and power of the armed forces of a country, that is, the sum of the forces of its army, its navy and its aviation, considered from a strictly warlike point of view: who would win a armed conflict or who would lose.

From very early on, nations relied on their armies to defend their resources or sustain their borders. Even today the military powers occupy a place of importance within the world order, being able to impose certain terms on the weaker nations, despite the fact that the warIt is generally used as a last resort.

In that sense, a military power is a nation whose armed forces are powerful, modern, and / or well-trained and up-to-date.

Power in science

In a field of knowledge very different from the previous ones, such as that of physical and the natural Sciences, It is also often spoken of "power". However, it is done in a very different sense, linked to the ability of certain substances or certain processes to subject others to changes determined. Thus, it is possible to speak of, for example:

  • Calorific power. When we talk about the amount of Energy calculated per unit of mass or volume from matter, which emerges from a chemical reaction from oxidation. That is, the amount of heat that the union of fuel and the oxidizer liberate the environment, and that is the result of the transformation of the chemical energy contained in the molecular bonds of fuel.
  • Reducing power. When it comes to the capacity of certain molecules biochemicals to donate electrons to other molecules, when they are in a chemical reaction of oxidation-reduction. This means that molecules with reducing power are capable of donating electons or receiving protons, obtaining a positive electromagnetic charge, that is, reducing itself. This chemical power is essential for the metabolic chain of living beings.
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