“Power” is a compound social characteristic in virtue of which an individual or group is able to compel the actions or inactions of other individuals or groups against their will or contrary to their interests

“Power” is a compound social characteristic in virtue of which an individual or group is able to compel the actions or inactions of other individuals or groups against their will or contrary to their interests, needs, and desires. Power derives from the ability to impose coercion — truncheons, prisons, and punishment; and it derives from the ability of some agents within society to set the agenda for future action. Power is needed to get 1.5 million people to leave their homes in Beijing to make way for Olympics developments. Power is needed to prevent striking miners from shutting down La Paz. Power is needed to protect the glittering shop windows of Johannesburg from disaffected young people. Power is exercised by states — through military and police, through agencies and bureaucracies, through legislation; it is exercised by corporations and other large private organizations; and it is exercised by social movements and other groups within society.