Theories Of Political Power

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Society is defined as an enduring and cooperating social group whose members have developed organized patterns of relationships through interaction with one another. Citizens within a society must learn to navigate the social world and decided how to perceive it. However, certain groups with power can influence the way members view society. Sociologists, Pierre Bourdieu and Charles Tilly present different yet similar ways of defining how members within a state can shape a society. In both cases, political power is one of the main ways society can be transformed.
Bourdieu’s concept of habitus is defined as “the mental or cognitive structures through which people deal with the social world” (Ritzer 185). Habitus can be identified as social structures
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Agents and institutions are considered occupants and they must operate within the confinement of the field. The field can be considered a battle ground because the occupants are constantly fighting to defend or advance their position. Bourdieu claims that these occupants can represent individual or collective ideals (Ritzer 188). Even though there are different fields such as economic, cultural, social and symbolic, the most powerful and important is considered the political field. The structure of power within the political field is what is used to develop the structure of the other fields. Occupants within the political field gain positions of power through the amount of capital they possess. The types of capital an occupant within the field can possess is economic, cultural, social, and symbolic. A person can control not only their own fate but the fate of others because of the amount of capital that they own (Ritzer 188). Through the desire to gain capital there is the presence of symbolic violence within the state. Symbolic violence is defined as “a soft form of violence that is practiced indirectly, largely through cultural mechanism” (Ritzer 189). According to Bourdieu symbolic violence can be seen within the educational system. The values of those with power influence the education that the people within society are exposed to. The people would be …show more content…
Military power grows within countries because the government are the ones supplying the weapons and therefore the overall destruction that war causes increases. Thus, he claims that war is what creates a state. This argument centers around the government acting as a racketeer. Racketeers are defined as “someone who creates a threat and then charges for its reduction” (Kivisto 244). According to Tilly, the government claims to protect its citizens from outside threats, but the threats may have been created because of the actions of the government. By creating real or fictitious threats of war, the overall welfare of the people within society is threatened. Another way that the government shapes the state is by controlling violence. This control could be asserted through various ways including harm of people or property and the violation of desires and interests (Kivisto 245). By the government using war and violence to shape a state, Tilly believed that it could lead to democracy because their rights as citizens were not readily available to them. The only way that democracy could be achieved is through a constant struggle between the state and society.
Tilly’s view on the government shaping society can be compared to Bourdieu’s belief of people holding the most capital being able to shape society. In both instances, the people with the most power try to impose their way of thinking

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