Influence Power And Authority


Influence authority and power are among the most common keywords in politics. They are present at all levels in a political system, but they are differently presented. However, the certain ground is Common that a human relationship exists and that the assessment of one or other parties affects the other’s behavior. The effect is that consciously sought to have contributed to a state of affairs by accidents normally not considered evidence of the exercise of influence (power, authority).

Eric Rowe considers influence to embrace both authority and power, though he admits that there are important differences between the terms. He, however, feels the need for an umbrella word to encompass the three. Since no really satisfactory one springs to his mind, he prefers the use of the term influence, and in this usage, authority and power become special cases of “influence.”

The dictionary meaning of the word influence is the power of producing an effect, especially the unobtrusively effect of power exerted. It implies a relationship between influence and power. For example, those who exercise power exert influ, hence, and as such, they can make other individuals or groups act as they direct or wish them to do. But the influence so exerted is not accompanied by sanctions, which is the sine qua non of power.

Power is a command and, therefore, an imperative, and its disobedience means the exercise of coercion Influence, on the other hand, is sans coercion. It is the response to the influence that matters, though it may affect the policymaking. The interest and pressure groups and the consultative bodies exert influence on the policy-making process. However, all such agencies have no power to compel compliance in preferred directions.

Do other organized groups engaged in politics, including trade unions, employers organizations, professional groups, teachers, doctors, lawyers, etc.

The organized groups’ strategy may be to exert influence on the agencies of government directly or indirectly. Most groups will operate both ways. The emphasis will depend largely on the political system, how far it is responsive to the magi public in a pluralistic society, and the group’s ability to obtain access and influence the government’s policy. In democratic political participation in politics, widespread political competition without violence is the norm. The politically influential in a competitive polity is limited both by the existing and potential competition.

There is an official ideology in a totalitarian polity, and the ideology is totalitarian in that the totality of social life is considered a legitimate matter for political control. In other totalitarian systems, which are the modern phenomenon and the traditional distinction is drawn between democracies and despotism, there is an absence of sophisticated ideology in which politics is equated with the social In political systems so described, the ruler is supreme, and all institutions are his agencies. In such politics, influence is highly concentrated, competition is weak, nominal, or nonexistent, and the rule is often arbitrary.

Authority and Legitimacy

Merriam uses authority as an all-embracing term as Eric Rowe did for influence. He writes that there must be a concentration of recognized authority for common good and power of common action, a final authority capable of commanding the loyalty of Citizen’ greatness.  It implies that there must be a concentration of recognized authority. It should command the bulk of society; it is the final authority to command as it is legitimate.

An authority that is not legitimate has little chance of surviving, But authority in practical politics, like influence, is not synonymous with power, although authority and power usually go together. When we refer to persons in authority or the authorities, the implication is that such persons or groups of persons have a right to be especially important in forming our political decisions and affecting our political behavior.

This acknowledged right is not afforded because we or others approve the decisions or acts, but the advice or command emanates from the authorities. This tightness rests in the source. The source is considered legitimate.

Max Weber gives the classical statement of different types of authority, the most universal and primitive case being that resting on an established belief in the sanctity of immemorial traditions and the legitimacy of the status of those exercising authority under them. There is also a claim to legitimacy which rests on the belief in the legality of patterns of normative rules and the rights of those elevated to authority under such rules to issue commands. In the third type, legitimacy is based on devotion to the specific and excoriation sanctity, heroism, exemplary character of a person, and normative patterns or order revealed or ordained by him.

In the traditional and legal forms of authority, the emphasis is on rules, and in the other, Weber, charismatic, the accent is on personal qualities. In practice, political authority is not of a pure type but a mixture. Much authority is based on traditions and is important as it is in Britain.

So deep-rooted have the conventions of the Constitution, as Dicey has named them, been found in the habits of Englishmen, and so found the mechanism of government is created on their foundation that without them the political system of the country becomes maimed if not absolutely unworkable. The United States has a written constitution, and utmost importance is attached to legality, but some Presidents, like Woodrow Wilson and Franklin Roosevelt, have exercised significant

charismatic authority; similarly, in Cuba, where Castro exercised largely charismatic authority, legal authority is also present. The charismatic authority of Jawaharlal Nehru was proverbial coupled with the legal authority the Constitution conferred on the office  of the Prime Minister

To sum up, authority is often described as the power exercised with general approval, legitimate power, or the approved use of force. This view both restricts the nation of authority and gives it the wrong emphasis. The essence of authority is not that it is power (or force); it is that those who possess it may affect the judgment or actions of others without the use of force because those who are to be affected acknowledge the right of the others to affect them The authority may, of course, be backed up by the largest. H arsenal of coercion in the society but authority as such is effective without coercion.  Acceptance of authority is the recognition of a moral right.


Power, like authority, is a means of favorably affecting another’s behavior, but by might not right. Those who possess and exercise power use force to impose their will. But the essence of authority is not power, although authority and power are normally found together. Even widely acclaimed rulers cannot rule by authority alone.

They must, horn time to time, coerce. If, however, the coercion is widespread, Indiscriminate, and regular, and there is much resentment against its use, it means there is a loss of authority, a phrase which underlines the key distinction suggesting a heavy reliance on power to be a sign that authority is on the wane.

Mrs. Indira Gandhi’s authority waned after 1973. This swing could be attributed to diverse factors coupled with Jayaprakash Narayan’s movement in Bihar for her removal from India’s office’s prime minister. To legitimize her authority, she proclaimed, without the approval of her cabinet, a state of internal emergency; what the emergency wrought is a matter of history. The Congress (I), the party she headed, was dislodged from power in the parliamentary elections in January 1977.

Mrs. Gandhi was also defeated in her own constituency, which she had nursed so fondly for about a decade. Despite the unbounded power that President Ershad had commanded and exercised for nearly nine years over Bangladesh, his authority totally collapsed. He had to demit his office on the unrelenting demand of the combined Opposition and the Army Commanders’ refusal to support his authority any longer.

Authority and power may pass gradually or dramatically from one individual or group to another and be either dispersed or concentrated. There is an alteration in government and the periodic elections in the parliamentary and presidential patterns of government, after regularly specified intervals. The right to govern flows from the electorate. This is a gradual and constitutional process of transferring power from one -group or individual to another.

The dramatic change may occur under unusual circumstances, as in General Zia-ul-Haq’s coup in Pakistan and General Ershad’s in Bangladesh. But it was the people’s power that swept Mrs. Corazon Aquino to the Philippines’ helm, replacing President Ferdinand Marcos’s dictatorial rule in February 1986.

The change of government in France in 1958 came about abruptly with a marked element of melodrama at the final stage, which brought General De Gaulle to power, ushering the era of the Fifth Republic. After the Watergate scandal, the authority of the United States President, Richard Nixon, was completely eclipsed.

The credibility of the Republican Government became suspect in the international community, and Nixon resigned from his office.

In a society like the United States of America where there is a separation between the executive and legislative branches and levels of government, and where individuals and groups technically outside of government are acknowledged to have the right and might to participate in policy-making, there is a diffusion of authority and power. In the USSR, by contrast, both authority and power were, before Perestrokia, concentrated.

Technically, authority and power are concentrated in the Cabinet in the Parliamentary system of government. The Cabinet is a wheel within a wheel. Its outside ring consists of a party with a majority in the representative chamber, the next ring being the Ministry, which contains men who are most active within the party and the smallest of all being the Cabinet, containing the real leaders or chiefs.

By this means is secured that unity of party action which depends upon placing the directing power in the hands of a body small enough to agree and influential enough to control The Cabinet, in brief, is the driving and the steering force.

The exercise of power may involve the allocation of rewards or the dispensation of penalties, or both. These may include the granting or withholding of direct or indirect financial benefits, such as income tax rebates or preferential higher education, and also a less obvious material benefit such as a symbol of rank or status, for example, a knighthood.

Such rewards and penalties are often sufficient for the purpose without recourse to coercion, such as imprisonment or death. In this context, Herbert Goldhammer and Edwards Shill define power as the ability to influence others’ behavior following their own ends.

Our conclusion is now obvious. Wherever we find politics, we discover conflict and how human beings cope with conflict. Indeed, when human beings live together in associations, anti-creating rules, authorities, or governments to deal with these conflicts, the very attempts to rule also help generate conflicts.

Which comes first, power or conflict, need not detain us. We found both conflict and power wherever human beings live together. This phenomenon exists everywhere. Therefore, politics is everywhere, But not all associations have equal powers. The State is the association that has the greatest power within a particular territory. Contemporary political scientists discard the use of the term State. However, practical politics still recognize this universal entity to lay down the framework within which all other power exercises must function.

The State gives the directions, and it also enforces them, if necessary, by employing armed forces. The State is the only association within the national frontiers that can use its aimed forces to compel obedience to its orders. How essential that control is to the State effective power is one of the clearest lessons of history.

This definition of the State in terms of power may be formally satisfactory, in that it explains where power resides while it is unchallenged. It explains the nature of the relationship between government and the governed as long as the latter do in actual fact approve of, on acquiesce in, the former’s decisions. Still, it does not tell us what causes subjects to decide to cease to accept the rule of one government ahead to replace it with another.

Governments change, sometimes peacefully, sometimes as a result of the revolution. When that happens, the new government is supreme, as was its predecessor, but something of importance to the citizens has happened. The new government’s power may be used for quite different ends from those the previous government pursued. Therefore, a definition in terms of power is unsatisfactory m that it does not tell us something about the ends.

All governments may be formally supreme, but governments vary widely in the way they use their power in actual practice. An absolute monarch is not bound to take any account of the wishes of the subjects. In a dictatorship, too, the government is not responsible to the nation for how it uses its power. However, it usually retains some of the democratic vocabulary and the formal frame Work of democratic institutions.

In a parliamentary democracy, the nation itself, through the medium of its electorate and its parliament, decides in greater or less detail how a government will use its power. Both government and people agree to bind themselves, act following the electorate’s wishes, and accept the latter’s verdict on its performance, the other to change a government that does not meet with its approval, only following a procedure laid down in advance.

The form of government varies. There may be a written constitution of written laws, supplemented to a greater or less extent by unwritten laws, conventions, traditions, and customs, but the principle remains the same. The last word remains with the people.

The power of the people as an ultima ratio is a confusing term in the midst of the complexities of the modern world’s social conditions. However, it is useful because it reminds us that we are dealing with the power, not of the inanimate machine, but human beings over their fellowmen. It is not possible to define in quantitative terms how much exercise of power by the rulers the governed Will stand without a revolution because the amount will vary with historical, geographical, and ideological conditions.

But we know from history that, however absolute the right to exercise power may be, there is a limit in practice. Human beings will stand just so much. Among the real and intangible factors that help the rulers know when it is dangerous to overstepping the mark are the common and social traditions that, as Dicey said, have formed the outlook of both the governors and the governed.

There are certain things which, quite literally, cannot be done at a particular time and in a particular place. It is this incalculable reserve power possessed by the governed, which makes it difficult to decide where, in a State, ultimate power really resides.

Political Elites:

The concept of political elites was first brought into the realm of politics by H. D. Lasswell. Since then, much has been written on political elites and the cases argued in detail. The common theme is that there is a distinct and identifiable group of persons in any and every polity that constitutes the political elites with sophistication. This elite may change without revolution, and another replaces one ruling group.

For example, landowning elites have been superseded peacefully by Commercial and industrial elites. Elite theorists acknowledged that there is the suppression of elites, circulation of elites, and internal competition, but maintain that an identifiable political elite or class is always to be found. The main argument hinges upon the fact that in every  society, there exists a minority of the population which takes the majority decisions the Society According to Lasswell,

“Elites are the power holders of a body-politic”

The theory of elites is not an innovation of contemporary political scientists. Its origin goes back to the ancient Greeks. Plato’s concept of Philosopher kings epitomized the essentials of the elite theory clothed in the virtuous qualities that the rulers sought to possess. Aristotle, Plato’s disciple, distinguished between the normal and perverted forms of government and aristocracy for him was the government of the talented and the best. The rulers directed their energies for the good of the people.

Oligarchy was for Aristotle the perverted and, therefore, a degenerated form of government, though we do not distinguish now between aristocracy and oligarchy. Even the cabinet in a parliamentary system is really a group of elites who actively oppose the policy. The prime minister, who heads it, is the tallest of all, the cabinet arch’s keystone.

All democracies have become mass democracies; they all have plebiscitary elements; that is, they also give room to the personal leadership-the personality of the leader. People vote for policies or against them. But they essentially vote for or against a man who leads the party contesting to secure the mandate. It is a contest between elites, and the popularity of a given leader can be assessed only in an open contest provided both by the parliamentary and presidential systems.

When the electorate vote for a party leader, they also vote for the party he heads so that his party may govern. If elected, the leader selects his own team consisting of the real leaders who are the elites in the party politics and are deemed the best to rule. The rule is, therefore, by the political elites. Maurice Duverger maintains that a government of the people and the people, as a classical explanation of democracy, must be replaced by another formula-government by an elite sprung from the people.

But it does not mean that the theory of elites contradicts the liberal democratic State. In democratic politics, decisions result from the competition and often cooperation between groups or leadership of groups. As we said earlier, the elite may change without revolution, and another may replace one ruling group.

The elites of the ruling group, therefore, cannot act arbitrarily. In a competitive polity, the ruling group is limited both by the existing and the potential competition. Such competition depends on continued freedom to publicize, criticize, and associate with others of like mind-and to survive after doing so because the day of reckoning (elections) is always in sight.

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