Power Politics

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorUniversity, Bachelor's February 2002

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Power Politics "Political action and the use of power messes up potentially rational change processes in organisations." Would a manager from a relational perspective agree with this statement? How else can political action and power be understood, and that understanding be used beneficially in times of change.

Before attempting this question, a few words need to be clarified. Firstly, politics. Politics can be defined as being: 1. The study of the state, political institutions and government 2. The study of power: any form of constraint in a relationship is political Secondly, power. Power can be defined as: 1. The ability to act or produce an effect 2. The possession of control, authority, or influence over others These are the traditional definitions of those terms. However, as this essay will show, there are alternative ways of looking at things. Instead I will look at the effects political action and power has on a rational change process from a relational and a conventional perspective.

What is a relational perspective? Vivien Burr, in her book 'An Introduction to Social Constructionism' describes what it means to be a social constructionist, or how to view events from a relational perspective. A social constructionist must take a critical stance towards taken-for-granted knowledge, which is to "challenge the view that conventional knowledge is based upon objective, unbiased observation of the world." (Burr, 2000). A social constructionist will understand why people behave in the way they do, through historical and cultural specifity, that is you behave within the framework of the environment in which you live, i.e. someone who is born into the western world will behave differently to a tribesman from Botswana, but both behave within the structures of their respective societies. A social constructionist will understand that through historic and cultural specifity, knowledge is...