Power is a Rooted in Relationships
There is one consistency in all these forms of power and that is they are all relational in nature. The relationship could be the in-group versus the out group, the in-group collaborating with the out group, the in-group mobilizing internally or the individual seeking to mobilize with an in or out group. As such, all power between groups can be conceived as primarily a series of relationships that utilize resource control consisting of human, social, psychological, physical and economic resources to confer benefits to one group over another or to enhance one group’s ability to act or resist.
The Definitions of Power I Agree With
To summarize, power can be defined as the individual or group members’ capacity or ability to act to make something happen that otherwise would not happen (Samah & Aref, 2009, p. 64).
We argue that power is not unpredictable, but instead can be understood by considering the structural pattern of relationships. The construct of power is one such mechanism that can facilitate or constrain efforts to gain control (Neal & Neal, 2011, p. 158).
Power as Control of YOUR OWN Affairs
Rappaport (1987, p. 121) defines empowerment as, “…a process, a mechanism by which people, organizations, and communities gain mastery over their affairs”. This definition addresses a few things. It is defined as a process, implying that there is a time factor. It is defined as a mechanism meaning, a set of parts moving together to accomplish something. This process and mechanism can be used with people, organizations, and communities. So empowerment can occur at different levels. Finally, within this definition the process and mechanism are utilized to gain mastery over ‘their’ affairs, which implies enhancing the ability to achieve self-determined goals and outcomes.
Power to Resist, Power to Achieve
The core issue is one of control, which could be defined as the targeted outcome of empowerment. Within the context of the four dimension of power, power over, power to, power with and power within, this would connote the ability to pursue your group’s ambitions in spite of those who would otherwise not want you to. It also implies the power create self-defined goals or collaborative goals with other groups and move towards achieving them. It also indicates that power can occur in multiple levels. Finally, and consistent with the concept of power within, empowerment has a critical awareness component in which the individual within a group is aware of both the opportunities for and the opposition against acquiring and using power.