What is Power?

Power is the form of ability that controls with the help of strength which derives from wealth, military equipment and knowledge. At various dictionaries, the definitions are also different. With power, the manipulators influence and penetrate the group of people in order to command, control, and persuade them where they desire. The acquiescence of power is intrinsic to the human nature. According to the dictionaries and scholars, the definition of power claimed differently but at the core, all of them bound to the coercion. People fought with each other for centuries in order to obtain it.

In the past, power only gained with killing someone or destroying some state with an army, precisely with hard power. Using another form of power was unacceptable at that time. Only we can see that France, in 18th and 19th century used the soft power in order to attract other European countries. Although France used soft power in order manipulate whole Europe, they even did not know that it is soft power or it differentiates from hard power. They thought it as a form of a regulation method. The term for this kind of power was coined by Joseph Nye, who was the former dean of Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. Although the word soft power was created recently, the power was always in use in international relations by some states. As the world modernized and other actors emerged, the power diffused between them. According to Joseph Nye, there are three types of Power: Coercing, inducing with payments and attracting them. When we seek a powerful country we always pay attention to its population, controlling area, resources, military might, the volume of its economic and so on. 1) Two centuries ago, only governments existed in the international relations, but now the non-government organizations, corporations occupied the places. These newly emerged actors also became the main players of the international relations. This penetration by the new actors emerged a new form of power because they did not have any military might. They established their program upon soft power and gradually became the main users of it. This is especially because of their work in the marketing field which demands attraction of customers.
Steven Luke argued that there are 3 types of power: The first one is obvious and unconcealed power, the second is covert power and lastly, the power that could shape the beliefs and the ideas of the people. The first type of power is one the group of people has a power over another group which is clearly visible. The second one was denoted by Morton S. Baratz (1962) in his “Two Faces of Power” essay. He claims that those who have power stays in the power, but others decided the agenda – what is going to happen and when it will happen. Lastly, Lukes utters that the third one is the most prevailing form of power because you form ideas of others and orientate them for your own advantage which even your propaganda can counter the beliefs of the influenced people and they may go against their own beliefs. 2)


1) Joseph S. Nye Jr. The Benefits of Soft Power. Harvard Business Review (February 8, 2004) http://hbswk.hbs.edu/archive/4290.html

2) Melissa Nisbett. Who Holds the Power in Soft Power? Arts & Affairs International Journal. (March 13, 2016) https://theartsjournal.net/2016/03/13/nisbett/

Advertisements Share this:
  • More
Like this:Like Loading...