Dictionnaire Constitutionnel

Authors: Duhamel & Mény
Summary: This entry of about 4224 words begins with a note on the ambiguity of the concept, namely its social necessity and, meanwhile, its peril. It derives from the Latin "potestas" and it has several meanings: power, authority, and ascendancy, it depends on the context of using. Further, the author talks about the fundaments of the power, its goals, its modalities of relationships and finally its formal aspects. Power can have religious or social origins and its functions can be focused on any kind of development or radicalism, or on the contrary, on conservatism. For both those purposes it uses some resources as persuasion, conditioning, communication, and so on.
Power is always based on an asymmetric relation: there is somebody who has the power and somebody who have to obey to power. The concepts of legitimacy and consensus are strongly linked to the concept of power. For "legitimacy", think at the Weberian idea of power and his typology (traditional, charismatic, and rational); for "consensus", think at the studies on strategic dimension of power, namely the capacity of obtaining obedience, non-decisions, political silence (Bachrach and Baratz), and free choice. Finally, the author analyses the shift from the so called "jungle law" to the state of law and then the processes of institutionalization and formalization of power. The latter has the goal of limiting the abuses of power and of establishing the access and exclusion rules for the management of the power itself. It is a product of the division of work and of social fragmentation.