18 September, 2012
- Valerie Zawilski proposes that social inequality is inevitable in societies
- There has always been structural differences, different thing affect this like opportunity and
- In addition to inequality there has always been resistance where people push and protest, and
- However sometimes social hierarchy makes us believe that things are supposed to be this way
- But social structure is created by people
What is Power?
- Power is the ability to control people, those with high status, people with influence, someone
with a charismatic personality, knowledge is power (those who have the knowledge and who
- There are a lot of power relations that affect who has the knowledge, who can receive
- There is power within the family, workplace, schooling, political institution (any place with an
- Power is socially created, it is produced rather than natural
- Power is never natural, we cannot understand power without the social structure
- Power however operates as if it is supposed to be natural, the fact that people accept it
- If power was natural, we would just give up, we wouldn’t want to strive to get to the top, we
would just accept things the way they are
Different Theoretical Approaches to Power
- Capitalism= economic system that involves two classes, the capitalist and the working class
- Capitalist, they own the land and means of production, has most of the power
- Working close, they work for their money, sell their labour but have very little power, doesn’t
have a say with the money that they receive
- Why would these unequal power relations continue? Why wouldn’t the masses seek inequality?
Because this is the way it has always been, you might have dependence but don’t have the
privileges of getting out of the working class
- Sometimes when people try to resist, they can be replaced in their jobs
- They don’t have the resources, no money or land - With the power of the pyramid, the people at the bottom are dependent on the people at the
top are dependent on the people at the bottom
- Those at bottom need the top to tell them what to do, and pay them
- Those at the top need the people at the bottom or else they wouldn’t have any production
Organization of consent
- People learn to identify the interest of the ruling class as their own
Marx was very important in understanding the class relations, However his theories were organized
around a grand narrative. Grand narrative ; was theories that seek to explain everything. Ex. of
understanding power relations through an analysis of class and exploitation. We need multiple theories
to explain things.
Poststructuralist: They say no! They reject sweeping explaination. Ex. Michel Foucault argued that
knowledge and power are interrelated. He says wherever knowledge is produced, it is socially produced.
Power relations affect the types of knowledge is produced. Therefore power is not neutral. One example
of how power works according to him is through normalization. Normalization is something that is
produced becomes “normal”
How does normalization work?
1. Through Repetition
2. Through Power, if your own tv a lot, and you decided that its cool to wear a cap on your head,
there is people that might follow it.
3. Regulation, it is normal to start minimum wage, this is more political and more of the law,
people structure their lives based on these structures and laws
4. Differentiates, you create something that is normal and abnormal
5. Hierarchy, normal is good but deviant is bad
6. Encourage homogenization, if you are deviant you should become normal. If you’re a deviant
you should take steps to be normal
Foucault also argues that instead of thinking of power through a top down mechanism we should think
of it as a web. This means that power is relational, the way it is exercised depends on the context.
Example, power relation in the classroom. The teacher gives you a grade; however she is not the only
one that can determine your grade. You can determine it whether you are deserve a better grade or not
by question why you got that mark. On the other hand the students can have the power too, they can
choose whether or not to go to class, or if the teacher gave all the students F’s then they have the
power to resist. Therefore it creates a sort of web relation. Another example is you family, your parents
have the authority and can tell you what to do, however you can use the power and ma