Through the ‘Power lens’: why UPA remains a formidable force

Irrespective of all the economic and political disquiet, the ruling dispensation remains a formidable force – primarly due to its internal coherence regarding leadership.

Lets look back at Steven Lukes and his analysis of ‘power’. Lukes  introduced us to a three-dimensional view of power: a continuum in ways one can exercise power, ranging from coercion to agenda-control to manipulation or exercise of hidden power.

  • Coercion: This view focuses on how decisions are made when there are visible conflict of interests. Understanding the ‘exercise’ of power or ‘coercion’ is easiest in this case, where one prevails over the other in decision-making situations.
  • Agenda Control: This view considers the ways in which decisions are prevented from being taken on potential issues over which there is conflict, where the one in power can ‘decide what to decide’.
  • Hidden power: Lukes introduces this in his three-dimensional view that looks at “ways in which potential issues are kept out of politics, through social forces and institutional practices or through individual’s decisions” (Lukes, 2005). Thus Lukes suggests that power can control not only particular behaviors and preferences, but also the underlying wants, desires and interests

While the ruling family exercises real power, the opposition is still playing out its visible conflicts – and status quo prevails.


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