Types of authority sociology. Authority (sociology) 2022-12-10

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In sociology, authority is the power or right to make decisions, give orders, and enforce obedience. There are several types of authority that exist in society, each of which serves a different purpose and is exercised in different ways.

  1. Traditional authority: This type of authority is based on tradition and custom. It is often associated with preindustrial societies, where the leader or ruler is seen as the guardian of cultural values and traditions. This type of authority is often exercised through religious or spiritual leaders, such as priests or shamans.

  2. Charismatic authority: This type of authority is based on the personal charm or charisma of the leader. Charismatic leaders are able to inspire and motivate others through their words and actions, and they often have a strong emotional connection with their followers. Examples of charismatic leaders include Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., and Nelson Mandela.

  3. Rational-legal authority: This type of authority is based on laws and rules that have been established by a legitimate authority. It is exercised through the use of bureaucratic systems and is often associated with modern, industrialized societies. Government officials, such as elected representatives and judges, hold rational-legal authority.

  4. Expert authority: This type of authority is based on knowledge, skills, and expertise. It is often exercised by professionals, such as doctors, lawyers, and scientists, who are seen as experts in their respective fields.

  5. Coercive authority: This type of authority is based on the use of force or punishment to enforce obedience. It is often associated with authoritarian regimes or dictatorships, where the leader holds complete power and controls the lives of their subjects through the use of force.

In conclusion, there are several types of authority that exist in society, each of which is exercised in different ways and serves a specific purpose. Understanding these types of authority can help us to better understand the social structures and systems that shape our lives.

Reading: Types of Authority

types of authority sociology

Similarly, members of dominant racial groups or upper-class families win respect more readily. Photo courtesy of U. Notice that in these examples, the users of power were the citizens rather than the governments. Based on this work, Weber developed a classification system for authority. A more modern form of traditional authority is patrimonialism, which is traditional domination facilitated by an administration and military that are purely personal instruments of the master Eisenberg 1998. After the deaths of all the charismatic leaders named in the preceding paragraph, no one came close to replacing them in the hearts and minds of their followers. Generally speaking, people perceive the objectives and demands of an authority figure as reasonable, legitimate, beneficial, or true.

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14.1 Power and Authority

types of authority sociology

In this type of authority, power is vested in a particular rationale, system, or ideology and not necessarily in the person who implements the specifics of that doctrine. A more specific form of traditional authority is patrimonialism, which is traditional domination facilitated by an administration and military that are purely personal instruments of the master Eisenberg 1998. Max Weber identified and explained three distinct types of authority. Government leaders might have this kind of influence as well, but they also have the advantage of wielding power associated with their position in the government. An individual granted traditional authority can be intelligent or stupid, fair or arbitrary, and exciting or boring but receives the authority just the same because of custom and tradition. Their influence came, in part, from their ability to advocate for what many people held as important values.

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Authority (sociology)

types of authority sociology

Not all authority figures are police officers, elected officials or government authorities. Authority refers to accepted power—that is, power that people agree to follow according to specific procedures. He is pictured here with fascist Benito Mussolini of Italy. For the most part, political scientists focus on studying how power is distributed in different types of political systems. Senate, it is customary to assign each senator a seniority ranking based on years of government service and the population of the state he or she represents. Berkeley: University of California Press.

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Types of Authority

types of authority sociology

Besides formal offices, authority can arise from tradition and personal qualities. Constitution provided for the transfer of power when the presidency was vacant, and because U. Legitimated rule results in what Weber called the monopoly over the use of coercive violence in a given territory. On a smaller scale, you might encounter rational-legal authority in the workplace via the standards set forth in the employee handbook, which provides the employee with a different type of authority than that of the boss. Children consider the type of command, the characteristics of the authority figure, and the social context when making authority conclusions. They found they had power because they were able to exercise their will over their own leaders. As part of their official duties, the police officer then has the power to issue a speeding ticket if the driver was driving too fast.

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18.3: Types of Authority

types of authority sociology

Similarly, an individual in a rational-legal authority position gains exposure, which may allow them to be charismatic leaders following their exit from formal authority positions. Because so few women have held dynamic positions of leadership throughout history, the list of charismatic female leaders is comparatively short. Traditional authority can be intertwined with race, class, and gender. Some leaders, like Mohandas Gandhi for instance, can be considered charismatic and legal-rational authority figures. Retrieved 3 Nov 2021. When Richard Nixon resigned his office in disgrace in 1974 because of his involvement in the Watergate scandal, Vice President Gerald Ford who himself had become vice president after Spiro Agnew resigned because of financial corruption became president.

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types of authority sociology

Charismatic leaders tend to hold power for short periods of time, and according to Weber, they are just as likely to be tyrannical as they are heroic. Government leaders might have this kind of influence as well, but they also have the advantage of wielding the power associated with their official positions and considerable state resources. The appeal of a charismatic leader can be extraordinary, and can inspire followers to make unusual sacrifices or to persevere in the midst of great hardship and persecution. Similarly, a leader or government can start out exemplifying one type of authority and gradually evolve or change into another type. Authority refers to accepted power—that is, power that people agree to follow according to specific procedures. If the same officer, however, were to command the driver to follow them home and mow their lawn, the driver would likely protest that the officer does not have the authority to make such a request.

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types of authority sociology

Leaders such as Martin Luther King Jr. Traditional authority can be intertwined with race, class, and gender. The political organization of ancient Egypt typified such a system: when the royal household decreed that a pyramid be built, every Egyptian was forced to work toward its construction. In the United States, the Kennedy family, which has produced many prominent politicians, exemplifies this model. Because so few women have held dynamic positions of leadership throughout history, the list of charismatic female leaders is comparatively short.

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types of authority sociology

A nation that follows a constitution applies this type of authority. For instance, a person who sees the flashing red and blue lights of a police car in their rearview mirror usually pulls to the side of the road without hesitation. As this example indicates, there is more than one type of authority in a community. A top ranking gives the senator priority for assignments to office space, committee chair positions, and seating on the senate floor. Michelle Obama, who no longer holds a formal position of authority and some might even argue that being First Lady itself does not translate into authority , is a current example of a charismatic leader. Based on this work, Weber developed a classification system for authority.

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types of authority sociology

What type of authority does this example best illustrate? In the Arab Spring uprisings, for example, Twitter feeds and other social media helped protesters coordinate their movements, share ideas, and bolster morale, as well as gain global support for their causes. New York, NY: Greenwood Press. We are generally aware of what authority figures have power to request, and are also aware when authority figures overstep their position. While she holds no formal position of authority, she is influencing change through being a leader that others can relate to, to the point of now hundreds of thousands of kids calling for radical changes in climate change policy. The political organization of ancient Egypt typified such a system: when the royal household decreed that a pyramid be built, every Egyptian was forced to work toward its construction. In this form of authority, all officials are personal favorites appointed by the ruler.

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