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The Concepts of Power and Authority Essay


Many people use the words “authority” and “power” interchangeably. However, these words have some striking differences in their meanings. Political thinkers explain the concept of power using individuals who hold specific positions. The term “power” refers to a person’s ability to control other people’s thoughts, actions, beliefs, or ideas (Garner, Ferdinand, Lawson & Macdonald, 2012). The concept of power goes further to explain how individuals can realize their potentials or achieve a specific “end” (Garner et al., 2012). More often than not, power is what gives people the capability to influence others. An influential person will encourage others to carry out specific actions.

The concept of authority explains how a person can command or control a specific situation. Authority is usually the ability to make others do a person’s will. The concept of authority explains how certain people can enforce various orders or demand obedience from other people. Authority is the right to get things and ideas executed by other people. Those who have authority can make decisions and give orders accordingly (Garner et al., 2012). One thing about management is that it is closely related to power. However, the authority has “degrees.” This explains why certain people, such as dictators, have complete authority to execute whatever they wish. This is not the case for a “powerful” person.

From the discussion presented above, it is easier to apply these two concepts to specific individuals and institutions’ role. To begin with, the idea of authority is correctly applied to a Canadian Supreme Court Justice because the court can pass legislation and influence certain practices and laws in the country. The Supreme Court can command a specific situation or legislation. The country’s president might not be able to control or make a decision about particular legislation (Garner et al., 2012). The Supreme Court always passes legislation, thus reshaping the laws governing the country.

The concept of power can be used more appropriately to describe the role of the American president. The idea defines management as a position or office held by an individual. However, the concept of force is applied to the president’s roles because they lack the authority to execute or do anything they wish. The president will need to get the approval of the Senate or Congress before making individual decisions (De Crespigny & Vertheimer, 2012). This explains why the American president is powerful but lacks the authority to pass legislation or do whatever he or she wishes.

The concept of authority will apply appropriately to the role of a biker gang. It is the role of the gang leader to give orders and make decisions for the biker gang. More often, the leaders will enforce obedience and make the members of the team carry out their orders (Garner et al., 2012). Most of the biker gangs tend to have different leadership structures. However, a majority of these leaders have a sense of autonomy. Most of them have a “complete” command or control over their specific gangs. The above analysis clearly explains how people use the concepts of authority and power interchangeably, depending on the situation (De Crespigny & Vertheimer, 2012).

How the State Shapes the Culture of a Nation

It is agreeable that every nation has a unique culture. A nation’s culture is a set of customs, behaviors, practices, and beliefs existing in a specific sovereign country. The culture of a particular nation is evident in its societies. For instance, companies usually develop institutional or leadership practices in accordance with their cultural aspects. The state has a role in shaping the culture of its people. This will eventually contribute a lot to the national culture. The government (or the state) sets laws and legislations aimed at restraining men from interfering with each other (Blad, 2011). At the same time, the government encourages its people to embrace certain beliefs and cultural behaviors. The idea promotes the image of their nation. The state also dictates various policies, thus controlling the economic and social issues affecting the people.

For example, the United States encouraged its citizens to adhere to the idea of “radical individualism.” As well, the American government embraced the wave of capitalism, which helped reshape the values, beliefs, and cultural aspects of the country. This explains why the country’s culture has succeeded over the decades. The state uses legislation and governance strategies to shape the culture and traditions of its people (Wolff, 2006). The government also preserves various heritage centers and encourages its citizens to pursue individual goals and religious practices. Such practices are unique to the United States. This explains how different states have succeeded in reshaping an exceptional nation’s culture.

Reference List

Blad, C. (2011).Neo-liberalism and National Culture: State-Building and Legitimacy in Canada and Quebec. Leiden: Brill Publishers.

De Crespigny, A., & Vertheimer, A. (2012). Power, Authority, Justice, and Rights: Studies in Political Obligations. New York: Transaction Publishers.

Garner, R., Ferdinand, P., Lawson, S., & Macdonald, D. (2012). Introduction to Politics. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Wolff, J. (2006). An Introduction to Political Philosophy. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

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