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Three Dimensions of Power by Steven Lukes

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Three Dimensions of Power by Steven Lukes essay

In the reading A Radical View, Steven Lukes provides three dimensions of power. He describes the second dimension as a person or group that creates or reinforces social and political values and institutional practices that limit the scope of the political process to public consideration. The third dimension is described as getting someone to do what they don’t want to, and exercising power over that person by influencing and shaping their wants and needs. An example of the second dimension would be how during a press briefing, a white house press secretary decides and limits what questions and topics will be discussed, which controls the conversation. The audience only has what was discussed in the briefing to form opinions and make decisions from. This example shows how controlling a situation reduces the choices people can make or preventing decisions from being made all together, because ignoring or preventing something from being on the agenda is a form of exercising power.

Mobilization bias is also apart of the second dimension. An example if mobilization bias would be current and past voting laws. In the past, some citizens had to pay a fee to vote in an election, which prevented poor people from voting. Currently, thirty-four states require identification for someone to vote, and seven of those states have very strict identification laws in place. Voter identification laws prevent people with a low-income, and minorities from voting because they usually cannot afford to purchase an I.D. or travel to purchase an I.D. Mobilization bias set institutional procedures and rules that operate systematically to benefit certain groups at the expense of others. Voter identification laws benefit wealthy and white Americans, at the expense of poor and minority Americans.

An example of Lukes’ third dimension is advertisements in the media. Advertisments can use manipulative tactics to influence and determine the desires and needs of the viewers, which gives the companies displaying the advertisements power. Another example would be how propaganda is used to influence and shapes the wants and needs of the public. For instance, if a politician is pushing for legislation against climate change, then that politician would deliberately structure their speech to change the public’s mind to be in their favor. They could accomplish this by only showcasing the facts from their point of view, and only talking about the benefits of their view, and twisting the arguments against their views. Controlling information and shaping preferences is a way people exercise power. Steven Lukes arguments for the second and third dimensions of power are valid based on these descriptions and examples.

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Three Dimensions Of Power By Steven Lukes. (2019, July 10). GradesFixer. Retrieved September 29, 2022, from
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