Examples of the 4 Faces of Power

An example of the first face of power would be what we called Initiation Day at my old high school. At the beginning of the season, my field hockey team would be divided into big sisters and little sisters. The big sister (which is an upperclassman) has power over the little sister (an underclassman), to the extent that the little sister would do something she would not normally do. This is a form of hazing, because the big sister makes the little sister do something embarrassing in front of her peers. The little sister does this stunt because she knows she will have that power when she is an upperclassman, and she wants to belong to the team. The first face of power has to be observed by a third party, which is, in this case the students peers.

An example of the second face of power would be an editor of a newspaper over one of the staff writers. The editor has the power over the writer to determine if or if not his or her stories are ran. The editor may even believe that they are acting in the writers best interest by not letting the writer be disappointed if the article is not received well by readers. In this form of power, the writer does not have the power to determine on his or her own if the story is good enough for the newspaper. This face of power does not have to be seen by an outside observer.

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An example of the third face of power would be a social group, or the stereotypical popular group from high school. In that group, the leader has power over the members to the extent that the leader can manipulate the environment, so the members can no longer perceive what their interests are. For instance, if the leader of the group treats a third party person bad, and a member of the group initially sees that action as wrong, the member wont say anything. Over time, that member accepts those situations, and follows along with those attitudes. The member gives up their individual power to that of a group. An outside party could observe this use of power, but the member would be unaware of it.

An example of the fourth face of power would be a girl who is suffering from bulimia. She is part of a power grid that defines what is normal, and in this case, thin is normal. An outside party can view bulimia as wrong, but they can change the fact that society sets the standard of thin equaling beautiful. This is the most powerful face of power because the girl is regulating herself by societys norms. Nobody is physically shoving their fist down her throat to make her throw-up.