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power

Definitions of Power

(noun) The ability of an individual, group, or institution to influence or exercise control over other people and achieve their goals despite possible opposition or resistance.

Power Pronunciation

  • IPA Pronunciation
    • American English
      • /ˈpaʊ(ə)r/
    • British English
      • /ˈpaʊə/
  • Syllabification: (pow·er)

Usage Notes

  • Plural: powers
  • Also called social power.

Related Quotations

  • “In a discipline such as sociology notorious for the difficulty it experiences in establishing widely and durably agreed definitions of its concepts, that of power (at any rate social power, which is our only concern here) stands out as one whose definition is particularly contentious and unstable. This in spite (or perhaps on account) of the fact that, however understood, this concept signals a particularly significant social phenomenon, arguably entitled to a central position in the discipline’s vocabulary and discourse” (Turner 2006:464).
  • “Most (and probably all) societies exist with systems of social division and social stratification, through which entire categories of people are elevated above others, providing one segment of the population with a disproportionate amount of money, power and prestige” (Macionis and Plummer 2012:232).
  • “Rape is about domination. It is about having power and control over someone. Rape is always a violent crime” (Kaufman and Kimmel 2011:133).
  • “Rearranging the home might be part of rethinking how heterosexual couples relate. And the three-piece suite is one example of how everyday objects might reinforce ideas about men as the head of the household. Besides the sofa there might be a large ‘dad’s chair’ given prime position in the living room and a smaller ‘mum’s chair’ in the corner, reflecting traditional ideas about the proper role of women as self-sacrificing and devoted to making men comfortable. These are rather flippant examples among what were serious attempts to think critically about relationships between women and men as relationships of power” (Worrel 2001:66–67).
  • “[T]he advantage to men as a group from maintaining an unequal gender order. Money income is not the only kind of benefit. Others are authority, respect, service, safety, housing, access to institutional power, emotional support, and control over one’s own life. The patriarchal dividend, of course, is reduced as overall gender equality grows” (Connell 2009:142).
  • “To enforce its power and sustain its privileges, the dominant ethnic group employs certain tools, which can be subsumed under the categories of prejudice and discrimination. Widely held beliefs and values regarding the character and capacities of particular groups are necessary to assure the long-range durability of ethnic inequality. These beliefs and values take the form of prejudices, that is, negative ideas expressing the superiority of the dominant groups” (Marger 1985:45).

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References

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Kaufman, Michael, and Michael S. Kimmel. 2011. The Guy’s Guide to Feminism. Berkeley, CA: Seal Press.

Macionis, John, and Kenneth Plummer. 2012. Sociology: A Global Introduction. 4th ed. Harlow, England: Pearson Education.

Marger, Martin. 1985. Race and Ethnic Relations: American and Global Perspectives. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.

Turner, Bryan S., ed. 2006. The Cambridge Dictionary of Sociology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Worell, Judith, ed. 2001. Encyclopedia of Women and Gender: Sex Similarities and Differences and the Impact of Society on Gender. San Diego, CA: Academic Press.

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Cite the Definition of Power

ASA – American Sociological Association (5th edition)

Bell, Kenton, ed. 2013. “power.” In Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Retrieved October 15, 2019 (https://sociologydictionary.org/power/).

APA – American Psychological Association (6th edition)

power. (2013). In K. Bell (Ed.), Open education sociology dictionary. Retrieved from https://sociologydictionary.org/power/

Chicago/Turabian: Author-Date – Chicago Manual of Style (16th edition)

Bell, Kenton, ed. 2013. “power.” In Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Accessed October 15, 2019. https://sociologydictionary.org/power/.

MLA – Modern Language Association (7th edition)

“power.” Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Ed. Kenton Bell. 2013. Web. 15 Oct. 2019. <https://sociologydictionary.org/power/>.