Importance of Power Relations

Common sense notions of power and power relations also speak of power with respect to whether it is ‘good’ or ‘bad’ – i.e. – whether it is used for positive or negative ends. Although this is an important element of study, the understanding of power relations in Psychology primarily suggests that these relationships are Positive (Hollway et al., 2007). This simply means that they do affect events and outcomes. The outcomes in question could be beneficial to one or more parties involved, could be harmful, or could be in part beneficial and in part harmful. In any of the preceding cases, it becomes important to understand the power relations between elements as part of developing a global understanding of the situation (Hollway et al., 2007). Importance of Power Relations in Everyday Life As the field of Social Psychology has evolved, it has become all the more important to understand the role of power and power relations in social phenomena. Power is inherent in all social relations, whether it is at a micro or a macro level (Phoenix, Hollway Elliott, 2009). Thus, it is necessary to understand the impact of the existing power relations in different situations, so that the data collected and observations made may be interpreted more accurately. Power relations are dynamic, and affect all parties concerned in some way or the other (Hollway et al., 2007). Thus, power should not be viewed only in terms of how the more powerful affect the situation, but also how the less powerful response to their lack of power. As a situation develops, power may flow from one participant to another, and it is necessary to understand this dynamic when interpreting the changes in people’s responses to the situation. Thus, it becomes apparent that power is not only relational but also contextual (Hollway et al., 2007). Different people may take power given the situational circumstances. Such a critical analysis of the data is necessary for not only for a more holistic interpretation of facts. but also for the development of the stronger theory of human functioning (Hollway et al., 2007). Over the years it has become evident that power affects all interactions and relationships across the board. Even a simple interaction with a stranger when where one individual asks another for directions is associated with an exchange of power, no matter how imperceptible. When one person asks another for something, they give them the power to satisfy/help them or to disappoint them. If the respondent answers in a positive manner (either by giving the directions or by apologizing for not knowing) they pass power back to the asker. On the other hand, if the respondent rebuffs to the asker, he/she may attempt to re-establish the balance of power by attributing negative dispositional traits to the respondent. Most people are oblivious to such minor exchanges of power. particularly as these power relations rarely impact their lives on a significant level (Langdridge, Taylor Mahendran, 2007). But sometimes even power relations that significantly impact someone’s life may be overlooked. In real-world settings, examples of such overlooked instances can be seen in racial discrimination against colored people and discrimination against women (Hollway et al., 2007).