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A2 Unit 1 - Power and Politics

2) Lukes’ 3 faces of power

Stephen Lukes said Sociologists should study power as having 3 “faces”.

The first face – The issue method

This is based upon the work of Dahl who said that person who wins and argument, or an issue, has the power. This fits with the Classical Pluralist approach to power.

i.e. a parent wins an argument with their child, so they have the power.

The second face – Setting the Agenda

Lukes said you have real power if you can set the agenda. This is because you can decide what will be argued about, therefore dictating the situation.

i.e. The chairman in a meeting has the power as he can decide what is talking about, which means he isn’t at risk of being challenged as he can then just change the topic of discussion.

The third face – Manipulating the view of others

The first two faces of power describe how power can be used to overtly get someone to do what you want them to, even if it against their own will. Conversely, the third face of power described how power can covert manipulate others to do something they might not actually want to do by changing what they want. Lukes, a marxist, said this can create a false consciousness as the working class will be convinced that what the ruling class want is actually what they want too.


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A blog set up to help A Level students revise Sociology


2 thoughts on “2) Lukes’ 3 faces of power

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  1. Pingback: 3) Classical Pluralism « Twynham Students Sociology Revision - October 13, 2011

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