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Chapter 3

POL 1101 Chapter Notes - Chapter 3: Decision-Making, Authoritarianism

Political Science
Course Code
POL 1101
Wolfgang Koerner

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Political Action
Power: ability to achieve goals in a political system and to have others do as you wish
them to
Principal concept in political studies because it attends to both the dynamic and
static nature of political life
Power may be pursued or maintained in an active manner (dynamic) (ex:
waging of war or creation of economic trade zones)
Power may be thought of as a measurement of politics (static) (ex: actors
in political life based on their access and control of power resources such
as natural attributes (oil and arable land)) or influence (diplomatic
expertise and respect)
Operative concept in that it represents one’s ability to do or act in a manner they
would like
Allows us to create a hierarchy of actors and interest in political systems
Three Faces of Power: decision-making, non-decision making and ideological
Decision making: most obvious and well-known form of governmental
power (policy making, legislation, etc)
Non-decision making: ability to set the agenda for discussion and debate
→ determining what issues receive priority in the policy process
Ideological: ability to influence people and mould the way they think
Hard Power: ability to provide incentives and punishments to others in order to
achieve the desired outcomes
Soft Power: relies on less tangible factors such as ideology, ideas, culture and
Influence: the ability to change behaviour in others without exerting direct power over
Effect one person has on another (or group) → capability of actors to persuade
others to do their will
Influence and persuasion are more difficult to quantify than most forms of power
Influence can serve as a substitute or complement to power
Authority: power or right to force obedience
Refers to the “right” of a group of persons to exercise procedures that are
required to regulate the community
Three different forms:
Traditional Authority: authority of actors whose legitimacy derives from
the fact that their power is passed down from one generation to the next
Rational-Legal Authority: most common in modern states and societies
and derives from the existence of and respect for a set of accepted laws,
norms, and rules
Charismatic Authority: where the recognition of the right to rule derives
from specific qualities of the person concerned
Leadership: group of individuals that lead society
Strong or weak leadership on the part of individuals or groups may determine the
capacity of the system and society to advance
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