Power, Authority And Legitimacy

Abstract :-

Legitimacy :- In political science, legitimacy is the popular acceptance of a governing law or regime as an authority. Whereas “authority” denotes a specific position in an established government, the term “legitimacy” denotes a system of government — wherein “government” denotes “sphere of influence”. Political legitimacy is considered a basic condition for governing, without which, a government will suffer legislative deadlock(s) and collapse. In political systems where this is not the case, unpopular regimes survive because they are considered legitimate by a small, influential elite.

Authority :- The term “authority” refers to an abstract concept with both sociological and psychological components. As a child born of a myriad of different social situations which have some rough similarities, no easy definition exists. Of particular concern throughout the literature on the topic is the entanglement of the concepts of authority, power, and legitimacy. This is a concern not only in the abstract (by which I mean that scholars discuss and disagree on how the three are entangled), but also in the concrete because scholars themselves are often guilty of entangling them. One is defined as a function of the other and vice-versa until the reader doesn’t know where to turn anymore for help.

Power :- What is power for use in politics, and does this power legitimise the authority of a Government?
Power, in political contexts, is the ability to persuade others to do something, even if they don’t want to do it.

Introduction :-

 Power , authority and legitimacy

Power  :-

In social science and politics, power is the capacity of an individual to influence the actions, beliefs, or conduct (behaviour) of others. The term authority is often used for power that is perceived as legitimate by the social structure, not to be confused with authoritarianism. One can regard power as evil or unjust; however, power can also be seen as good and as something inherited or given for exercising humanistic objectives that will help, move, and empower others as well.[citation needed] In general, power derives from the factors of interdependence between two entities and the environment.[citation needed] The use of power need not involve force or the threat of force (coercion). An example of using power without oppression is the concept “soft power” (as compared to hard power). Much of the recent sociological debate about power revolves around the issue of its means to enable – in other words, power as a means to make social actions possible as much as it may constrain or prevent them.

In corporate environments, the ethical instrumentality of power is achievement, and as such it is a zero-sum game. In simple terms, power can be expressed by whom ? being upward or downward. With downward power, a company’s superior influences subordinates for attaining organizational goals. When a company exhibits upward power, subordinates influence the decisions of their leader or leaders.

Authority :- 

In the fields of sociology and political science, authority is the legitimate power that a person or a group of persons possess and practice over other people.  In a civil state, authority is made formal by way of a judicial branch and an executive branch of government.

In the exercise of governance, the terms authority and power are inaccurate synonyms. The term authority identifies the political legitimacy, which grants and justifies the ruler’s right to exercise the power of government; and the term power identifies the ability to accomplish an authorized goal, either by compliance or by obedience; hence, authority is the power to make decisions and the legitimacy to make such legal decisions and order their execution.

The types of political authority were first defined by Max Weber in his essay “Politics as a Vocation” and his other writings in 1919–1920. In this essay he emphasized that the political authority that controlled the state can be composed of the following types of authority, or what is called in German, Herrschaft.

Traditional authority:Power legitimized by respect for long-established cultural patterns.
Charismatic authority: Power legitimized by extraordinary personal abilities that inspire devotion and obedience.

Rational-legal authority: Also known as bureaucratic authority, is when power is legitimized by legally enacted rules and regulations such as Weber.

Legitimacy :-

Legitimacy is “a value whereby something or someone is recognized and accepted as right and proper”.[6] In political science, legitimacy usually is understood as the popular acceptance and recognition by the public of the authority of a governing regime, whereby authority has political power through consent and mutual understandings, not coercion. The three types of political legitimacy described by German sociologist Max Weber are traditional, charismatic, and rational-legal:

Traditional legitimacy derives from societal custom and habit that emphasize the history of the authority of tradition. Traditionalists understand this form of rule as historically accepted, hence its continuity, because it is the way society has always been. Therefore, the institutions of traditional government usually are historically continuous, as in monarchy and tribalism.

Charismatic legitimacy derives from the ideas and personal charisma of the leader, a person whose authoritative persona charms and psychologically dominates the people of the society to agreement with the government’s regime and rule. A charismatic government usually features weak political and administrative institutions, because they derive authority from the persona of the leader, and usually disappear without the leader in power. However, if the charismatic leader has a successor, a government derived from charismatic legitimacy might continue.

Rational-legal legitimacy derives from a system of institutional procedure, wherein government institutions establish and enforce law and order in the public interest. Therefore, it is through public trust that the government will abide the law that confers rational-legal legitimacy.

Relation between power, authority and legitimacy :-

In politics Power gets used to implement a decision. The role of Power becomes most effective when Power does not remain a source of coercion.  In-fact after getting legitimized it becomes Authority. Means the stability of Authority depends upon legitimacy.  So in short Authority is a quality or capacity of a person, institution, rule or order which becomes important in defining whether Authority is correct or authentic, so that people can follow the rules and regulation without any hesitation. Because of the use of Authority official Governmental policies, rules and regulations get accepted in the society. Authority has two main components: Power and Legitimacy.

Legitimacy of a rule or a decision signifies the fact that people reckon the decision as fruitful and in welfare of the society. Thus they are always ready to follow the rule or decision. Demonstration of Power does not become necessary as long as Legitimacy is attached to Power. It only comes out as a symbol. Like a judge with his black gown or a policeman with his uniform. Just like beauty lies in the eyes of beholder, Legitimacy lies in the eyes of beholder.

 There is no question, that without Power it will be very difficult to implement the official decision as well as rules, but only by the fear of punishment or by the coercion authority may not prove successful as far as long term benefits are concerned. In fact such a step becomes tyranny and works as a catalyst for the rebellion.

 The able use of Power always gets support from legitimacy. Most of the society follows the rules on the basis of legitimacy therefore using Power does not become necessary all the time. No one will follow the rule or a regulation if the legitimacy of that rule is ruined irrespective of the Power of Authority

When we talk about authority, it is not the earthly type that we are addressing. Earthly authority relies upon worldly law, or the amount of military troops one has, or power seized or given by others. Worldly authority can be acquired by inheritance, wealth, or even notoriety but not spiritual authority. Authority that is spiritual in scope is given to us by God and operates according to His laws. Spiritual authority like worldly authority must have the power to act in order for authority to be genuine. Worldly authority is not authentic if the one who possesses it doesn’t also posses the power to enforcement his will. We would say that this one is just a figure head that possesses no real power. This is why we must not just speak about authority but also power.

Silent features of power, authority and legitimacy :-

Power is the ability, whether personal or social, to get things done either to enforce one’s own will or to enforce the collective will of some group over others. Legitimacy is a socially constructed and psychologically accepted right to exercise power. A person can have legitimacy but no actual power (the legitimate king might reside in exile, destitute and forgotten). A person can have actual power but not legitimacy (the usurper who exiled the king and appropriates the symbols of office).

Here, now, we begin to approach an understanding of what authority is because in all social situations a person is treated as an authority only when they have both power and legitimacy. We might consider, for example, the phrase uttered so often when someone intrudes into our business in order to give commands: “You have no authority here.”

What does that mean? It might mean that the person has no legitimate claim to be heard or heeded. It might mean that the person has no social power he has not the ability to enforce his will over the objections of others. Or, it might be both. In any event, both must be present for authority to exist (socially) and be acknowledged (psychologically).

This is still not quite enough, however, because it defines authority a bit too closely to the concepts of legitimacy and power. When a person has authority over others, it means something a bit more than simply that they have a right to exercise existing power. The missing ingredient is psychological the previously mentioned but not explicated issue of acknowledgment. Both power and legitimacy are social in that they exist in the interplay between two or more humans. Yet what goes on in the mind of person when he acknowledges the authority of another?

It isn’t simply that he accepts the factual existence of power or legitimacy; rather, it’s also that he accepts that an authority figure is justified in making a decision without also explaining the reason for that decision and persuading others to accept that the decision was reached properly. The importance of this is not too difficult to see.                 

Aishwarya Says:

I have always been against Glorifying Over Work and therefore, in the year 2021, I have decided to launch this campaign “Balancing Life”and talk about this wrong practice, that we have been following since last few years. I will be talking to and interviewing around 1 lakh people in the coming 2021 and publish their interview regarding their opinion on glamourising Over Work.

If you are interested in participating in the same, do let me know.

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