Power in Sociology
Power in Sociology
Sociology is a study of the development, structure, and functioning of human society. Sociology also studies the sophisticated connection between human behavior and individual life changes. Sociology examines by the way of social structure such as various social institutions that affect human attitudes, organizations and social categories. However, in the subject of Sociology of Work, it has combined sociology with work to improve the human behavior in the organization. According to Grint (2005), “Work occupies a substantial proportion of most people’s lives and has often been taken as a symbol of personal value”. He perceived that work will affect an activity that transforms nature which could be undertaken in social circumstance. However, power is the main topic to discuss in this essay.
Power is the major explanation to the study of social society. According to J. G. March (1966 cited in Shafritz, Ott & Jang, 2005), it is not even related to organization and also among the community of decision making, business behavior, and small discussion. Meanwhile, power is not only used in the organization but theoretical able to apply in the other circumstances. However, the discussion in this essay will be critically evaluate the power that is used by those top level of the organization to control and possess to those lower level in the hierarchy. Coercive power is one of the powers that will be discussed in the argument, follow by social power and also legitimate power. This essay will include some of the theories by Weber and Marx to support the discussion of power.
Bureaucracy means the top of the management holds the coordination and possession of the hierarchy and who devised a system that includes the rule and regulation to restrict the lower level subordinate in order to achieve organization goals, (Grint 2005). In the theory of Bureaucracy by Max Weber, he perceived that there are possess and control towards the lower level subordinate by the top in the organization. Weber has conceptualized of authority on bureaucracy by the sense of legitimate power and it will be the center of the organization’s processes. Weber also emphasizes rationalization process that regard to work organization and also able to improve development of technological and scientific thinking. This process would remind the employees to use the most appropriate way to achieve task base on the procedures and the formalize roles. Besides, according to Shafritz, Ott & Jang (2005), “The principle of office hierarchy and the level of graded authority mean a firmly ordered system of super and sub-ordination in which there is a supervision of the lower office by the higher ones”.
It means that the hierarchy and the level of an organization had their own system of authority to supervision the employees by the top of the management. Capitalism is devised by a German philosopher named Karl Marx. It is related to the industrial sociology and labor process. Marx had mentioned that industrial society had to be compared with agrarian society and the success of human freedom eventually, but the main reason of the social formation was only caused by the capitalist pattern and not the industrial process. Marx had emphasized that capitalism is more important than industrialism because it is the only capitalism. He also argued that “human species is different from all other animal species, not because of its consciousness but because it alone produces its own means of subsistence” (Grint 2005).
On the other hand, alienation and exploitation still an important part of the capitalism. The impact on Marx’s theory in the modern industrial had strictly been use in the labor process. This impact had developed a perspective with the employment relations and employee behavior in the work design and also the organization. Alienation is the relationship between human expression and labor changes, and not using labor to fulfill their needs. Marx also stated that worker are alienates from their labor because it is no longer belong to the worker, but rather to the capitalist. In the system of capitalist, the minority owns the production, where the labor power is only owned by majority (Grint, 2005). Thus, the profit of production is through a commodity market and this is called alienation of production.
Exploitation is a social relation on which capitalism is built. Worker pays less of wages than what they produce. It means that the worker gets a 10 dollars wages a day, he/she must produce more than 10 dollars a day worth of value. As we know, power mostly uses to control the hierarchy by the top of the management in an organization. Power in an organization has really big skill, whoever having the higher position in the organization will obtain the possession authority to control the entire organization. According to Giddens (1979 cited in Grint 2005), he argued that too many power which had been used at the same time would cause the least of the result eventually. It means that if the organization had too many of work relationship, it would be more complicated and uncontrollable by the management.
However, coercive power is one of the powers that always uses by an organization. This power generally uses in some “low trust” organization to possess their worker and employees. Due to that, coercive power is often used by the top level to direct control the lower ones. Coercive power tends to be highly prescribed procedures which the workers are ordered to follow step by step of the job. Workers are in close supervision and under surveillance by the top level along the working period. Therefore, low commitment and low trust culture would be integrated into the coercive power regulated organization. Not even that, a tightly bureaucratic structure and culture will infuse in this coercive organization. Bureaucracy management is slightly similar to coercive powers which both are using force and impersonal forces to regulate the organization. Moreover, the internalization of an organization would be affected directly to the performance and productivity of an organization. In other words, social power means internalization; basically it is a central element in analyzing human society and the way it is organized.
Based on organization point of view, the strength of social power is defined as the potential ability of A to influence to B in the organization. According to French and Raven (1959 cited in Shafritz, Ott & Jang, 2005), power of a person is measurable by the influence ability although he may choose to use lesser than it. Due to that, internalization and social power are mostly the same, they are both study about process of acceptance of a set of norms and values established by people or group which are influential to the individual through the process of socialization. However, legitimate powers occur when a leader is being selected to an authority position. It means that the leader with legitimate power has the authority to issue order which they in turn have an obligation to accept. According to French and Raven (1959 cited in Shafritz, Ott & Jang, 2005), they said that the speculation and investigation about social specified behavior has been considerable, which is particularly prescribed to give a position.
People with legitimate power are usually involved in certain title or position. The impact of this legitimate power could affect the whole organization. At the higher hierarchy management person, such as manager and Chief Executive Officer (CEO), they are the main person who makes decision in the whole organization. In term of leadership, the top management would use legitimate power to force the employee to do anything they want and complete the task. But, the down-line employees could reject the forces by their up-line manager. According to Linton (1945 cited in Shafritz, Ott & Jang, 2005), the differences of the group norm are pursuant from whether they are alternative, culture and specialties. As far as concerned, Marx and Weber both have interpret the same meaning related to enforcement in the organization. In the above discussion, Weber has conceptualized of authority on bureaucracy by the sense of legitimate power.
Which is means bureaucracy and legitimate power are similar concept of management way for a organization. He also devised that there are possess and control towards the lower level subordinate by the top in the organization. Legitimate power used by some of the organization to regulated their employee. The organization structure and performance will be improve and also increase productivity. In a legitimate organization, the top management has the authority to control the lower ones. However, coercive power also same as the legitimate power use manage the hierarchy in an organization. Coercive power is suitable to use in industrial base organization to supervise the worker since there is “low trust” structure in the organization. Both of these powers are slightly similar to bureaucracy management that uses to dominate the lower level employees in an organization.
For example, Just in Time system (JIT) able to improve behavior of the worker and power capacity. JIT is mainly use by industrial sector in Japan which is produce just in time for them to use. JIT is a simple production method for manufacturing. It is to produce and deliver the product at once it is finished to be sold which is also called just in time to be sold. Lastly, there is another power relate to hierarchy management from top to lower level. Social power as we know as internalization of an organization, it is a study of someone’s influential to individual through the process of socialization. Social power is much more important for the hierarchy management
. This power would be need more skill and knowledge when use to apply on employees. Top management need to know how to influence the lower ones to change their mindset. The worker will perform better and efficacy when their mindset is just toward the organization. Total Quality Management (TQM), the system that use in many organization since 1980s. In this case study of TQM, they had question toward power that to be capability of individual or group. They research on the structure and inter-personal characteristics within the bank division and branches that under same organization. From analysis of this case study, the power relation not only apparent in social power but also in coercive and political power.
In conclusion, the power that discuss above which use to improve hierarchy management and that able to develop the human behavior in the organization. Power is the major explanation to study if social society. The three powers that had discussed in the above paragraph include coercive, legitimate and social power. All of these powers have enough use to handle the hierarchy management in the organization. However, coercive and legitimate power is more toward impersonal and forces way of management. Top management can use social power to influence their employees to work and change their mind of thinking in term any affection in the organization.
University/College: University of Chicago
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Date: 3 January 2017
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