TypesOfPower (ThoughtStorms)

Context : OnPower

|| Type || Explanation || Institution || Activities ||

|| Exchange || People do what you want to get reward || Market (OnMarkets) || Trade, Barter ||

|| Threat || People do what you want to avoid bad consequences || Crime, extortion, hierarchical organizations (Government, Corporation)|| Threat of violence or loss of status, job ||

|| Imitation || People do what other people do. || Churches, festivals, SoftPower? || Tradition, Religion ||

|| Persuasion || People do what you want because they think it is good for them or right || Education, Media, Persuasion || Rhetoric, Rational Argument (See also ValueOfArguing ||


Instinct discussion

I think Consumerism fits neatly into both "Imitation" and a new category - "Instinct". Advertising is basically a form of subliminal power to get people to do things based on their psychological reaction to something, even if they don't know it. Meanwhile, people buy stuff as they think they need to imitate others.

p.s. was starting to think about this today as well, but didn't end up blogging it. Cheers Phil =)

-- GrahamLally

Is what you're calling instinct different from imitation because it's unconscious? -- PhilJones

Yes, pretty much. Imitation could also be considered an unconscious act, on some level, but is more of a power derived through groups, and the desire for social inclusion, whereas instinct is contained within an individual or organism, even, and doesn't depend upon peer reaction (although may be reinforced by it, and vice versa). EdwardBernays is the name to look up for instinctual persuasion techniques of influence.

Perhaps Threat also shares some ground with instinct, in a flight (or fight) sense.

-- GrahamLally


Rational Choice Definition

There is a nice little book called 'Power' by Keith Dowding (University of Minnesota Press 1996) which goes into theories of power. He distinguishes 'outcome power' and 'social power' as so:

Outcome power: the ability of an actor to bring about or help bring about outcomes

Social power: the ability of an actor (deliberately) to change the incentive structure of another actor or actors to bring about or help bring about outcomes

In more detail: each agent has a ‘choice set’ of possible actions. Actions have ‘costs’. Actors choose their actions to bring about outcomes which they believe have ‘benefits’ to them. Actors have beliefs about the costs of their possible actions, the likelihood of their actions leading to different outcomes, and the benefits they will get from different outcomes.

So changing the incentive structure could involve:

(Compare: OnInterventions - power = ability to make interventions in systems?)

Can all of the types of power above be viewed in rational choice terms?

Threats and offers are devices to change perceived costs / benefits of actions. You can also persuade people to change their perceptions of costs and benefits by eg. discussion that causes them to reconsider their preferences, or what they believe is 'right'.

The thing about rational choice theory is you can tell any story you like about how 'choice sets' or 'preference sets' are formed in the first place. And, as defined above, power is all about influencing others' preferences.

So e.g. - could graft a theory of imitation onto rational choice account of power by talking about how actors develop values and 'choice sets' - beliefs about what options are open to them - through copying.

PowerAndLuck

darius


Thanks Darius,

So e.g. - could graft a theory of imitation onto rational choice account of power by talking about how actors develop values and 'choice sets' - beliefs about what options are open to them - through copying.

Alternatively, I suppose, you could also model it by figuring in some cost of choosing. (Does RationalChoiceTheory typically view decision-making as free?) In which case, copying the vernacular is a bet that the ExpectedUtility of copying is better than the cost of figuring out + the ExpectedUtility. (Contrast MinorityGame)

-- PhilJones


See also :


See also :


CategoryTypology