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Power : Power is an effect of unequal relations between people that society recognises as belonging to certain groups as a result of being sorted into those groups on the basis of social practice. [2]
Because power is an effect of social structure, and not an absolute force imposed from above, nobody is completely powerful or powerless. But people have different degrees of power depending upon how they are ‘located’ in society. Through practices such as reading and writing, the members of different groups interact. In the course of this interaction alliances and oppositions are formed. These complex alliances form a HEGEMONY – a network of social groups which ‘work together’ in an unequal partnership against other groups. [3]

Power : Homework Activity

A ruler or ruling class may hold power as a result of the force it possesses; some raw strength in the form of muscle, weapons, army etc to rule those who are weaker and do not possess this strength. A ruler or ruling class may have access to power because of tradition and the fact that a family has always ruled; it could be wealth and ownership of property; possibly it may have something to do with intelligence or cleverness or controlling those who are clever; it may be access to essential resources; possibly its access to power or knowledge; maybe it's an ability to manage people; or cunning and guile and manipulation. The list continues.

Graph what you consider to be the power relationships in your family. The basis of power in interpersonal relationships is somewhat different, though there are obvious similarities. For example a gender such as males may be traditionally priveliged to rule. Men are "meant" to be bosses. The use of sex and or affection - using emotions- either offering or witholding, is stereotypically a traditional "weapon" of females.

Where possible, indicate the reason or basis of the power structures in your family. He (or she) who holds the remote control is all powerful. (Possession is nine-tenths of the law some say.) Is the father figure the boss (tradition)? Is it natural aggression and will to rule (mental domination; intimidation); is it strength; earner of money and provider of food; carer, cleaner, cook and provider of sustenance in the home? The list is almost endless.

Before you start, consider the HEGEMONIES that may be involved. (Re-read the power definition at the top.) Are there groups in power at different times? Are there any "class distinctions in your family? For example, are the kids "lower class"? Are those over eighteen more priveliged, and in what ways?

Do you hold power at any time for any reason? Indicate all of these relationships in graph form(see below).

One graph type :

Mum Dad Me Brother
(Grandma owns the house, has the money and is the traditional head - matriarch - of our Italian family)

My three month old brother (EVERYTHING revolves around him)
Everyone else

Dad and Mum (equal in their power)
Older brother (Yells at me, intimidates me)
Little brother
Cat (bossy, vicious)


(Don't forget that these power relationships are changing all the time, so the above example may be turned upside down for some reason. Provide as much depth of explanation as you can.)

[2] Moon, Brian. Literary Terms: A Practical Glossary. Chalkface Press. 1993.
[3] Moon, Brian. Literary Terms: A Practical Glossary. Chalkface Press. 1993.


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