Authority: it’s Source, Sanction and Other Information!
The concept of authority is closely linked with the concept of power. Authority means legitimate power. Hamuel Arendt portrays authority as power based on consent.
Following are the definitions of authority:
1. “Authority is often defined as power, the power to command obedience.” —MacIver.
2. “Authority is the capacity to justify by a process of reasoning what is desired from the point of view of man.” —Fredrick
3. “Authority is the power to make decisions which guide the actions of another. It is relationship between two individuals—one superior and the other subordinate.” —Herbert A. Simon.
4. “Legitimate power is often called authority.—Robert A. Dahl
5. “Authority is the capacity innate or acquired for exercising ascendancy over a group. It is manifestation of power and implies obedience to it.” —Encyclopedia of Social Sciences.
Sources of Authority:
According to Max Weber, there are three sources of political authority, viz., traditional, charismatic and legal:
(a) When a continuous use of political power or its exercise on the basis of customs and traditions leads to emergence of right to rule it is known as traditional authority.
(b) When the right to rule springs from the dynamism of a political leader, it is termed as charismatic authority.
(c) When the right to rule emerges from the constitutional rules, it is termed as legal rational authority.
It will not be out of place to point out that in ancient times King and his advisors were the fountain of authority. In Democracy authority is hierarchical. The official on the top of hierarchy enjoys the maximum authority. According to Peter Oadjupar, “Power structure or systems are usually hierarchical in form with those the top normally bearing more power than those at the lower level since decisions made and enjoyed at the top of the pyramid have more widespread effect than those made further down.”
Sanction of Authority:
Briefly speaking, the following are the sanctions behaviour authority:
(a) Social sanction. Sometimes an individual accepts authority because of fear of society. In certain social situation society expects the individuals to be obedient.
(b) Economic security and status. At times authority accepted by the people if it brings pecuniary benefits enhances their status.
(c) Sanction of purpose. Sometimes for efficient functioning an organisation its employees accept the authority of seniors. In other words authority is recognised by individual for attainment of goal or object.
The Limits of Authority:
Authority is always subject to limits. If the limit is violate! Those who possess authority, the subordinate can ignore or polo it. In the words of Marriam “Leader of the man in authority is the bus driver He is allowed to use his discretion in the selected the road but he must take his passengers in the desired direct and if he does not they leave him on the way and choose their path.”
Authority vs. Power:
Power and authority are considered synonymous but in actual fact both differ. In the word Lasswell, “Power becomes authority when it is legalised. Capital to issue orders is power whereas authority is exhibited at where decisions are taken.
The main points of difference at follows:
(a) Authority is always legitimate whereas power is legitimate and illegitimate.
(b) Authority is based on consent whereas power is based force. According to Eric Row “Power like authority means of favourably effecting the behaviour of another but by might not right.”
(c) By nature authority is more democratic than power as it is always legitimate and based on popular support.
(d) Authority reflects ability of man to get his proposals accepted but power is the capacity of man to change the behaviour of others.
Despite these minor differences the concepts of power and authority are most vital and inseparable elements of politics. They have become central to the study of politics.