Turning the Tide Taster Sheet


taking effective

Power can be defined as the ability to have an impact on the world. In our society power is usually interpreted as 'power over' - the ability some people and groups have to make other people do things they would not otherwise do. However power is not an inert thing which some people just have; it exists in relationships. The power of some depends on the obedience of others, which leads to the question of why people obey, why they actively or passively keep systems going with which they may not actually agree.

For example: power in a school
In a school everyone involved with it has some power to make an impact on the school's functioning and the people in it. They can do this because they all possess various advantages, or sources of power.

The HeadSocial tradition, controls money, gives rewards and punishments, the law, has information, interface with the outside world
TeachersLength of experience, knowledge, socially recognised position, the law, (sometimes) charisma
ChildrenNumbers, nuisance value, they are the raison d'etre for the school's existence
PrefectsPosition in the system
GovernorsCan hire and fire, vested authority, control of budget, can expel
Older classesSize and strength
The caretakerThe key, controls the environment, knowing how things work, (vis a vis the children) is a grown up
The school secretaryControls information and is a channel of communication
BulliesSize, cunning, intellect, physical strength
ParentsCan raise money, can remove children (the law), cooperation, can become Governors
Secretary of StateThe law, inspection, ultimately controls resources, civil service apparatus

The sources of power are the reasons why some people obey others, and can be summarised as:

There is also charisma, which may give power to someone who otherwise does not have it, or strengthen the power of someone who has other sources. A very important source of power is the ability to define reality, to be able to say what the world is like and what people are like.

Active nonviolence can enable apparently powerless groups to find power together in order to alter oppressive structures and relationships.