Power Is A Central Concern Amongst Many Sociologists Essay

Power Is A Central Concern Amongst Many Sociologists Essay

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Power is a central concern amongst many sociologists, with many questions that arise such as; what is power? Who has power? And where is it located? (Stanbridge & Ramos 2010: 2–5). These questions have engaged different sociologists from diverse perspectives and persuasions. Many of the differences of opinion will never be resolved by some unifying theory, as power is an ‘essentially contested concept’ (Lukes 1974, 2005: 137). There is no one-way of understanding power because the meanings of power are diverse and often contentious. This paper will focus on two theorists and their approach to power, politically speaking, from the left of centre, Steven Lukes in comparison to the right of centre, John Locke. The first approach that will be examined reflected by Lukes, focuses on power being a complex system of relationships, leading him to suggest a ‘three-dimensional view’ of power. Furthermore, this paper will focus on developing a clear understanding and examining the ‘three-dimensional view’ of power. The second approach of power from the perspective of Locke focuses on the containment of power being a central solution to the ‘good society’ for the benefit of the individuals within it (Locke 1690). In this paper the key principles and assumptions of both Lukes and Locke will be discussed in relation to their theory of power and ways in which both approaches interrelate and differ from one another. Also, examining the positives and negatives of both approaches.

At first glance, Steven Lukes and John Locke share few things in common. Lukes and Locke are both social theorists concerned about the subject of power. Due to this interest both theorists have come up with their own approach to power, both becoming very influential pol...


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...ne power and to express power through new theories and diverse approaches. Lukes believes that that there are three forms of power those being; observable decision-making and conflicts, the observable process of excluding certain issues and topic from discussion and lastly the hidden ability to set an agenda. On the other hand, Locke is a strong believer in natural law and that there is only one form of power that will benefit society for the good and that is power being controlled and divided. Thus, it can be reviewed that Lukes’ and Locke’s approach to power does not interrelate but are very opposing. By pinpointing the negatives and positives of the approaches it can be clearly seen that both theories have strengths and weaknesses but neither theories can define what power is because power is diverse and there is no one-way in understanding power but rather many.

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