Paradoxes of Power in Sociological Insight by Randall Collins

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Paradoxes of Power in Sociological Insight by Randall Collins It may be said that the institution of power has always been a prevalent force in our society. It is a large part of what holds society together; without it civilized society as we know it would not exist. The functions of power range from keeping crime at bay to the more commonplace aspects such as allowing patrons to be served in a restaurant. The notion of power is almost invisible until further analyzed; it is something that we perceive as being simple and therefore take for granted. Yet there are so many intricacies in regard to power that still remain to be seen. In Chapter Three of Sociological Insight by Randall Collins, the author establishes some valid points concerning power. He posits that power is something of a self- contradiction, that it is often most effective when subtly exercised. Collins also delves into the various forms that power may take, such as money and coercion, which are negated as valid forms of power. Lastly, the importance of implicit principles and understandings is emphasized, also illustrating that power is most firmly established in the realms of both certainty and uncertainty. In accordance with the title of Chapter Three, Paradoxes of Power, Collins' main point is that power is truly a contradiction; the word itself evokes images of monarchs and times long gone by. But in the present day and an era marked by the rise of democracy, power has little to do with such institutions; rather it something that is exercised on high levels as well as lower ones. Although it is something not often thought about, power is everywhere. It is evident in the legal ... ... middle of paper ... ...ercion are proven to be inefficient forms of power. In analyzing the institution of power so closely, the author has brought to light a multiple of viewpoints on power in its many forms. Perhaps he wishes to break down the components of power in order for it to be seen in a simpler light and to emphasize the egalitarian nature of humanity in spite of social classifications, by elucidating the fact that power is something that can be learned. What I have gathered from this analysis is mainly the duality of power. It is at times both complex and startlingly basic, due to the fact that, with the exclusion of philosophers, it is not something often meditated upon. I have come away from this reading with the knowledge that power is not based solely upon always having the upper hand, but rather it is knowing when to concede.

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