Power in Daily Life

Once again the textbook for this course has caused me to think about a term as common as power in a new way and realize that there is so much more to the idea than I thought. Power has many  causes and effects. Because of certain social structures and statuses power exists and people react to that power. In my life power is present through my relationships with family and friends.

We use power everyday without even realizing it. My roommate and I, for example, negotiate on terms and come to agreements constantly, as those who live together should. Each of us has our own strategies to get the other to do what we want. If someone left the dishes out too long or wants to have the lights go off earlier at night we might causally mention it in passing or decide to talk the other party into the idea. Sometimes roommate can be stubborn towards one particular topic and it takes more than just simply suggesting an idea to come to an agreement. This would include the use of some of the power tactics mentioned in the textbook. Negotiate, request, persuade, persist, discuss, demand, complain, collaborate, are just a few of the strategies that would come into play in this situation. All of these would come naturally to a person and one would not even realize what they are doing is a play of power against the other. This roommate situation requires more discussion and work than an argument with a parent would because the roommates do not have power OVER each other. They can only suggest things and hope that it does not lead to coercion because they do not have to listen to one another by social standards.

This brings us to the idea of parent and child. If I am asked to fold the laundry I do it for several reasons, some being sociological. For example, my parents have domination and power over me just by social standards and traditions. It is their status as my guardians to be able to control my actions. I also feel I must help around the house because my parents were kind enough to raise me and pay for my schooling so the least I can do it a few chores. This would be power  out of respect for them. And lastly I would do it for the threat of what would happen if I didn’t. My parents were never one for harsh punishment because I never really misbehaved. I always had a feeling as to what would happen, an underlying threat that kept me from misbehaving. All kids know what would happen if they disobeyed their parents so they do not even bother to resist. All of these lead to the conclusion that I must do what my parents ask. At the end of the say I still have a choice, but it wouldn’t end well for me if I chose the latter. There would be a break in our relationship, I could be kicked out of the house etc.

The same goes for friendships, I do my friend a favor that I wouldn’t do for just anyone just because of a respect I have for them and an inclination to please and maintain the relationship positively. All of these factors cause us to see power in simple ways in our life, whether its intentional or not. Authority does not have to be defined by law or a title, it can be as simple as a relationship to another person.


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