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Distinction Between Power and Authority Essay


Power is defined as the ability to influence other people into doing something without questioning. Power can be personal, legitimate, or official, depending on its acceptability and legitimacy. It is directly exercised on a subordinate who is expected to obey and follow the given directions. The persons involved tend to respect the orders delivered not out of willingness but under pressure to comply (Garner et al., 2009). On the other hand, authority is the right given to a holder of a specific position to make decisions, but with certain limits. It is exercised on colleagues as opposed to power, which is exerted on subordinates. The person who assumes authority has the liberty to exercise such rights that they may deem to fit. Authority is explicitly outlined, and thus it is fixed and well defined as opposed to power, which is the innate ability of the person that holds a given office. It is not limited or described vividly. The giver of authority can also take it easy, while power cannot be accepted (Garner et al., 2009). Also, control is not coercive or forceful, but it involves convincing people of a given decision’s validity. In exercising authority, one influences people to do what is right and helpful. For example, an author who affects people into reading their writings can be said to use their authority.

Canadian supreme court

The Supreme Court is the highest in the country with jurisdiction to hear and consider all cases. It is designed to listen to lower courts’ appeals where a patient has been omitted in an earlier decision. The decision made by judges of this court is final, and it cannot be appealed. Therefore, this aspect means that the court exercises power and not authority since the appellants have to abide by its decisions. The court possesses a kind of official capacity to influence individuals seeking justice to abide by its rules without questions. Also, the court ruling sets rules that must be obeyed by the lower courts when delivering their verdicts. This aspect is proof that the judge in this court exercise powers and not authority. The concept is further illustrated by the view that the court is independent (under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms), and thus it possesses some degree of dictatorship as no other branch of government can influence its decisions. This form of power cannot be quickly taken away as opposed to authority whereby the holder of such can be deprived of it.

President of the United States

Authority is subjective, and it depends on the person who has much influence on other people due to his or her reputation. It is a kind of rightful power used in a positive way. Such authority, if used in a coercive and assertive manner, translates to energy and dictatorship. In light of this statement, the U.S. president only exercises control given to him/her by the citizens since he or she does not abuse this privilege. The president is thus expected to respect the constitution and the laws governing the scope of his or her responsibilities. This way, he or she is said to exercise authority bestowed upon him or her by the citizens after elections and limited by the constitution. Furthermore, the power can be quickly taken away by the same citizens through elections or a vote of no confidence passed by the people’s representatives. These facts lead to the conclusion that the U.S. president only exercises his or her authority as provided by law.

Leader of a biker gang

Biker gangs are outlawed groups in the United States, as they are believed to engage in criminal acts (Dulaney, 2005). They are well-established groups with hierarchical leadership. The leaders of these groups have high commanding power, and their subordinates must act as directed. In order to qualify as a member of this social unit, one has to perform various manual tasks at the initial stages under the command of the leaders. Junior members are sent on missions involving criminal acts, which they have to engage in since they cannot question the authority of the leaders. All these elements are clear indicators of power as opposed to management. The leaders’ powers are not limited, and thus they have the ability to give any form of the command to their subordinates. They can decide to suspend or even lay off any member who defies their orders without consulting anyone.

Role of the state in shaping a nation’s culture

One way that a government can accomplish this mission is through passing laws aimed at encouraging healthy relations with foreign countries. This goal is achievable via the signing of agreements that facilitate the acquisition of citizenship by people from foreign countries and their protection when in a foreign country (Graseck, 2008). It can also be achieved through trade agreements whereby foreigners acquire the right to invest anywhere around the world. An excellent example of such a move is the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the General Agreement on Trade and Tariffs (GATT), which enable people of different cultural backgrounds to interrelate.

Another significant role is that of establishing a common religion for all states. Most states have adopted a single official religion to help in integrating different cultures. An example of this aspect occurred during the Roman Empire, where Christianity was recognized as the official religion in a bid to bring cultural stability to the empire. In other countries where Islam is a dominant religion, in Afghanistan, for example, Islam has been declared as the official religion. This move has worked quite well in various countries where citizens are quick to embrace the set faith. Another example is England, whose leaders declared Anglicanism as the official religion. However, this move did not come without resistance from the minorities who view it as discriminatory, and thus they were reluctant to comply. In some cases, minorities have even resorted to violence as a way of resistance and deviance.

The third move is the implementation of democracy, which has so far been embraced by most countries across the world. Citizens are given a chance to elect leaders of their choice in a free and fair election, which has boosted peace all over the world. This aspect, together with the development of modern infrastructure, has facilitated migration and interactions, thus leading to a notable change in the cultural status of different groups in society.


Dulaney, W. (2005). A Brief History of “Outlaw” Motorcycle Clubs. Web.

Garner, R., Ferdinand, P., Lawson, S., & MacDonald, D. (2009). Introduction to Politics: First Canadian Edition. Oxford, U.K.: Oxford University Press.

Graseck, S. (2008). Explore the past to understand the present and shape the future. Social Education, 72(7), 327-370. Web.

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IvyPanda. 2021. "Distinction Between Power and Authority." February 26, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/distinction-between-power-and-authority/.


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