Differences between Power and Authority

 Differences between Power and Authority

Power and Authority are words we do use interchangeably but they do not mean same thing. However, the differences between Power and Authority in Politics are:

1. Power is the ability to produce a change in the behavior of others through the use of force or coercion or threat. Authority is the recognized power. Power is based upon force. Authority on the other hand is based upon the constitution, laws or rights or traditions. Authority enjoys the status of being a rightful power.

2. Power may or may not be legitimate. Power based on naked force, dominance and suppression is illegitimate power. As against this, what is called Authority is essentially a legitimate power. Legitimacy is the hall-mark of Authority.

3. The exercise of power depends upon the power-holder to act and use his resources for securing the desired results in respect of the behavior of others. The exercise of authority involves the prescribed and willing acceptance of power of the authority- holder by the subjects. It is the acknowledged and recognized power of the authority holder.

4. Scope of authority is defined, recognized and limited. Authority-holder is responsible as well as accountable in respect of the exercise of his authority. Hence Authority is democratic in nature and scope. Power depends upon the ability and capability of the power-holder. Its use can be democratic or undemocratic.

5. Authority has two essential elements: Power and Legitimacy. It is a power backed by recognition or belief that it is legal, just, good and beneficial for those upon whom it is used whereas Power involves imposition of decisions.

6. A dictator has the power to rule by Decree whereas a democratic ruler uses the authority to rule as contained in the Constitution.

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