How does a specific movie and characters apply in lukes theory of power

n Assignment #1: option C

Power Analysis (4 pages, double-spaced)

DUE: Week 5 in class


To provide an opportunity for students to review and apply Luke’s Theory of Power to (real or fictional) situations at the individual, small group or community levels of analysis wherein one party wields power over another.

Lukes emphasizes the fact that power, if it is to be effective, is generally employed in subtle, rather than overt, ways. Thus, he introduces the notion of the three “dimensions” or “faces” of power (see class notes).In so doing, he urges us to examine the use of power not only in the more obvious cases wherein one party is clearly in conflict with another (1stdimension power) but to consider the deployment of various forms of power in more covert ways, through the manipulation of the “rules of the game” (2nd Dimension) or the social construction of the game itself (3rd Dimension).

Lukes (as well as Gaventa) also notes that power depends very much on the cultural, social and political context under which the interactions of individuals, groups and communities take place. These contexts may be found on the micro level, such as the context of The Home or Family in cases of domestic violence/oppression; or they may befound at the macro level, such as Gaventa’s example of coal companies dominating the political structures and courts of Eastern Kentucky in the early & mid 20th century. Finally, in noting the importance of context, we should remember that much of what allows oppressive forms of power to persist at the interpersonal and community levels has a lot to do with both the actions— as well as sometimes the inactionof those social institutions whose purpose it is to guarantee our safety, liberty and equality before the law and with each other.



Select a Scenario from one of the three options below:

A. Your WORK or LIFE: i.e. your placement, previous social work practice or volunteer work, or your own life experience


B. A scenario you’ve read in a fiction or non-fiction BOOK (e.g. various vignettes in “Grapes of Wrath” or aspects of Orwell’s “1984”)


C. A scene or sequence from a FILM (fictional or documentary):

see list – pdf file – under assignment 1 on course webpage


Describe and Analyze the Scenario. According to Lukes there are some essential elements to any power analysis, and your memo should address these:

1. Who are the parties involved (individuals, groups, or communities)?

2. How do the parties compare to each other in terms of power? Remember to consider different realms of power, such as:

a) Economic

b) Social

c) Legal

d) Political

e) Cultural

3. How do the parties’ interests differ?

4. What is/are the basic conflict(s) between them (latent or manifest)?

a) Hint 1: Try to keep this part simple and don’t enumerate too many points of conflict.

b) Hint 2: oftentimes the conflict has to do with something A wants B to do, but that is not in B’s best interests.

5. *How is A (the more powerful party) employing his/her/their power?* That is, which dimension of power do you see being used in your example?

a) First Dimension

b) Second Dimension

c) Third Dimension

d) Some combination of dimensions

NOTE: Item #5 is starred * because it is the main task of this assignment. The other elements help to build toward the core analysis of how power is being deployed in the scenario you have chosen.

NOTE 2: Remember, your memo should be argumentative: that is, it should:

A. Make clear claims about the parties’ power, their interests and most importantly, how power is being employed; and

B. Demonstrate the validity of those claims (i.e. provide backing evidence for your analysis of what kind of power is being employed).