Power Approach To The Study Of Politics

In the traditional approach to Political Science, the concept of sovereignty was central to political study. In modem times the concept of power has become central to its study. William A. Robson says, “It is with power in society that political science is primarily concerned—its nature, basis, processes, scope and results. The “focus of interest” of the political scientist is clear and unambiguous: it centres on die struggle to gain or retain power, to exercise power or influence over others, or to resist this exercise”.

Power has different forms. It varies from the use of force or threat to use force to domination or influence which one man or one group of men exercises over other man or group of men. It is “men’s control over the minds and actions of other man”. It can be a peaceful exercise or violent like a military action.

It can be exercised for the good of the other or for his injury. It is a struggle between two persons or parties to control governmental power to decide matters of policy or acts of State. Law is die -decision of the person or party which has captured governmental power. Decision-making authority or power is both the object and result of power struggle. In other words, “power is the capacity to affect others without being as much affected.”

No power is absolute. All power is exercised within certain rules and conventions. Even die most powerful king respects the wishes and opinions of the persons close to him. The purpose of a constitution is to frame rules within which power will be exercised by the government. Even a State without a constitution, such as a Martial Law government, has to work within some rules and conventions, though unwritten or unexpressed.

The real weakness of power approach is its lack of precision. Power can be exercised politely or violently. “It is said to manifest itself in situations ranging from a request that die salt be passed at the dining table to a situation in which States are exchanging all-out thermonuclear blows.” The aims of the exercise of power are clear: it is to maximise one’s advantages over one’s opponent or enemy. But the concept of power is too general. As Vernon Van Dyke says, “When it covers so many kinds of events and relationships, a handicap is imposed both on the individual who is attempting to formulate and express a thought and on the individual who is attempting to understand what another has said”