‘in Modern Societies, All Power Is Ultimately Economic Power.’ Discuss.

Topics: Sociology, Capitalism, Marxism Pages: 3 (1228 words) Published: February 11, 2013
‘In modern societies, all power is ultimately economic power.’ Discuss. There is no agreement over the question of what people mean by social power. Different understandings of this term, different concepts, have a major impact upon subsequent research and consequently produce different theories about the distribution of power. The study of social power has always been central to the sociological perspective. Different sociological theories advance different arguments about both the way in which particular forms of social power – political, economic, cultural, technological – shape the distinctive characteristics of modern societies and the consequent changes in previous forms of such power. We usually talk that some people have power while others do not. Power is talked of as if it is something inherent in people! For example, teachers have power over pupils, parents over children and so on. Yet as we shall see power is many things to many people. Once we have come to some understanding of what power is, or what Marxists believe it to be, we will look at the more important question of how power is distributed and the mechanisms of power. Before we go any further some features of the common sense definition of power must be taken to task. We are apt to think of power as something that some people have, just like some people have physical strength or a bad temper. This is not the most useful way to think of power. Power should be thought of as existing in social relationships, that is, within the realm of social interaction. To put it simply, Robinson Crusoe did not have power until he met Friday, then he became a powerful man, at least with regard to his newly found "friend". Therefore, power exists within social relationships not outside of them. Power does not reside within people nor does it float about landing on the unsuspecting. Thus, when we speak of people or classes having power what we mean is power within a social relationship. A question about whether...
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