French and Raven’s Five Forms of Power
According to French and Raven, there are five forms of power that can be possessed and used by human beings. These include coercive, reward, legitimate, referent, and expert power. Many people assume that they are powerless, but most human beings possess at least one of these types of power. In this paper, I will discuss which of these types of power I recognize others as having, and which types of power I believe have that I possess. First, however, I will briefly explain the five types.
Coercive power is the power to force someone to do something against his or her will. This is the type of power that is probably the most resented by the majority of people, but it has proven to be the necessary force that allows governments to maintain order, as well as parents to protect and discipline their children. Reward power is the ability to give people what they want by performing a designated service or task. This is probably the form of power that most people are familiar with in their professional lives. We all know that in order to receive a paycheck from our employer, certain designated duties must be completed. Legitimate power is that which is invested in a role, and that role is usually bestowed upon someone by a coercive power (such as a government). An example of legitimate power that most people are aware of would be the power of a police officer or judge. Referent power is the power that one possesses when others want to be like them. One of the best examples of someone with referent power in our society would be a charismatic celebrity or athlete. Lastly, expert power is the power that one possesses when they have certain knowledge or skill that others require, resulting in a need for their involvement. This is probably the type of power that most people possess.
As mentioned in the opening paragraph of this paper, many people believe that they are powerless, which more often than not is false. Although the...
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