Sociology Essay Example: Studying Power by William Domhoff

Paper Type:  Essay
Pages:  3
Wordcount:  552 Words
Date:  2021-04-02

Studying Power by William Domhoff, talks about Power as an experience which is key to realizing the effects one wishes to produce (Domhoff, 2005). Power, according to him is a fundamental dimension in different aspects of human life at various social levels. According to the article, power is one of the human experiences and plays a leading role in different problems. Such problems include bullying, ruling hierarchy, elites, warring classes and enforced cooperation.

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Definition of Power

The author uses Bertrand Russells definition to define power effectively. According to Bertrand, power is the ability to produce the intended effects. Russells definition accommodates both distributive and illustrative power. Collective power, is the groups ability to realize shared goals. On the other hand, distributive power involves social structures where egalitarians are on one end the dominators on the other. This definition in the article emphasizes competition asserting that it is a Dog eat world.

Measuring Power

In the literature, power is measured by various indicators bearing probabilistic indicators to it. Many articles as shown by the literature attempts to explain the indicators. However, indicators to the concepts such as power are not perfect. William further adds that indicators are different to the extent that irrelevance of other indicators cancels each other out. Accordingly, indicators point to the same direction, thus showing that the concept can be measured effectively.

Four power indicators

In the piece, the four indicators of power are known asking the question, who wins in arguments, who stands out in the eyes of their peers, who benefits, and who governs. When raising the question of who benefits, one ought to look at the people who have most of the things or experiences most people desire they would have. Therefore, people with such things and experiences are considered authoritative by inference. When looking at the question on who governs, the question requires looking at the institutional framework. Thus those with important positions in institutions making important decisions are considered powerful. This indicator varies from time and place. When asking the question of who wins, one ought to look at the different conflicting views and ideas. One can infer power from these conflicting ideologies by looking at who successfully initiates their opinions into policies. The indicator of who wins focuses on the process of making decisions which eventually determines the formal definition.

The other indicator which is asking the question on who stands out is looked at through observers or people who have knowledge of that particular person. The reputational method is used to determine who has a great reputation and stands out from the rest. The different indicators have their weaknesses and strengths, and it is not always possible to use all the four indicators, due to time and financial constraints.


William also discusses axioms of power in summarizing the ideas and consequences of power. One of the axiom asserts that power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. This observation implies that those who have power, eventually get destroyed by such power. The author also attempts to explain why power seems to have certain consequences on beholders. These axioms describe the nature of power and try to help readers understand more about power. The article gives an insight into power, and the author is successful in explaining the theory of power.


Domhoff, G. W. (1995). Studying power: Transaction Publishers.

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Sociology Essay Example: Studying Power by William Domhoff. (2021, Apr 02). Retrieved from

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