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Key Point:Power is the ability to control or influence the behaviour of people. Power that is considered legitimate may be referred to as authority. Power exists in all social relationships between human beings.
Do you agree with this definition of power? How might you define power differently? Write your own definition of power on a post-it note and add it to the wall. Take a few minutes to look at other people's definitions. We will come back to these definitions later.

Let's consider how the concept of power relates to our everyday life. Brainstorm all of the people who have (or have had) power over you in your life. Try to think outside of the box and move beyond the obvious answers suggested below. You may also consider who you have power over in your life.
The IB defines power in these terms: Power can be seen as ability to effect change and, rather than being viewed as a unitary or independent force, is as an aspect of relations among people functioning within a social organization. Contested relationships between people and groups of people dominate politics, particularly in this era of increased globalization, and so understanding the dynamics of power plays a prominent role in understanding global politics.

We can see that power is not as simple a concept as we may have first thought. Many writers argue that there are different types of power and there are many competing theories of power. Have a look at these short video clips and, while watching them, consider:

  1. How might we distinguish between different types of power?
  2. Do you want to modify your original definition of power in any way?

Now return to the definitions wall and add another definition of power that takes into account everything you have considered this lesson. You should also write a comment on at least one other persons definition.


Reading for context:
This link is a short discussion of the changing nature and balance of power in today's world by Joseph Nye (check out and you'll see why he is someone who is worth reading). If you are asked to login then use the details given below:
The Changing Nature of Power - Joseph Nye
username: UWCGloPo
password: politics