The exercise of power at the work place essay


The social world is complex with many people struggling to control the society either through manipulating the people or ownership of resources. At the work place, power and control is often identifiable. The power may or not be accepted by the people, but the fact remains that they are still subjects to the power (Mann, 1986). Power at the workplace includes coercive power, legitimate power, referent power, and skill-based power. However, the distribution of power at the workplace is not even. Some people have more power compared to others based on factors such as gender, personality, age, and history. My experience with leadership and power at the work place makes me think that social power reigns over the other types of power in wide means. This paper analyses the exercise of power at the workplace with the intention of explaining the exercise of power at workplace.
The most significance factor prompting power in the workplace includes aspects related with gender. I can personally attest to the fact that in Korea, most of the people adhere to cultural beliefs that women must always submit to the men (Harris, 1993). For example, in some civilizations such as the Asian community, women are supposed to submit to men while the men assume the leadership roles. Gender enhances the manifestation of power also in the sense that men in the society often receive superior training compared to women. This creates a social gap between the two groups making men to rule over the women. In essence, men have command over women because the culture favours them in preference of women especially in matters such as education and inheritance.
The quality of work between males and females is also different. In my research, I found out that the level of training that people possess has the potential of dictating the level of quality in their work. In most cases, within the Asian society, men receive superior education compared to women. The productivity of the men thus remains high within men having a higher chance of producing services of higher quality compared to women. It is apparent that individuals capable of producing higher quality services have more power in the workplace due to increased bargaining power as their services are admired. As a result, the males possess more power and exercise monitoring and control over women. Such a parameter denies women a chance to monitor and control the men as they have lower ability to match the quality by their male counterparts. Gender based power has no justifications especially considering the fact that only the social rules define what role a person assumes at work (Foucault, 1982). Women have the power to get out of such domination by accessing more education and being more assertive at the work place.
Age differences also result to variations in the exercise of power in the workplace. The most common source of difference at the workplace in the present world is the generational gap that exists among the people. I saw the truth in the age gap when an old person got a promotion as a young more qualified one missed just because of experience. In this respect, in most of the organizations, the older employees possess authority over the younger employees. This mainly happens because of two main factors. Initially, the old employees have more experience than the young ones. In this case, the organizations prefer the leadership of the old as they make more practical and sound decisions. Furthermore, the older employees exercise power over the young employees because they mainly understand the culture of the organizations more than the young employees do. This is affirmed by the fact that the more a person works at a place, the more he or she becomes familiar with the organization’s culture.
Apart from age and gender, power at the workplace depends also on the income of the people at the work place. Among the Asian countries, the income gaps are so wide that individuals of the higher class have the potential of affecting those of low status substantially. Income gaps at the workplace occur due to various factors, which in turn lead to the power differences. Initially, training or expertise difference results to a gap in the income of the people. Among the Asians, most of the men access superior training than the women due to fewer barriers hence they possess the power over the women in most cases due to income gaps. The older people at the workplace have more experience than the younger people hence they command higher earnings giving them power over the young people.
People may also get power at the work place from legitimate sources far from the subjective features (Harris, 1993). The people in higher positions at the workplace control, direct, and monitor the people in lower positions due to the power they possess over them. Possession of rare skills at the workplace also makes some people more powerful than the others. Such people possess the ability to manipulate the others because they have something lacking in the other people. Nevertheless, most of the people who are dominated at the workplace have some power to resist the domination. Some of them revolt although the most effective tool for rejection is attaining more power through education (Benjamin, 2013). The subjects react by revolting to the power and publicly opposing the powerful elite, although they are mostly suppressed (Mann, 1986). The women in particular are accessing more education opportunities hence entering the power ranks with time. Gender and age based power is ethically not justified among the people although the cultural perspective forces the society to live with it.
I have constantly suffered gender discrimination at my work place. For example, in most cases I have faced challenges while attempting to convince my seniors especially those of the male gender to adopt my proposal. This is because my male seniors mainly tend to despise me because of the assumptions that they have upon my gender. Some chauvinist still believe that women have little to offer thus paying more attention to ideas prompted by men than those raised by women. Furthermore, in my workplace, I feel discriminated when I am unable to secure promotion in some areas because of my gender. This is prompted by the assumption that a particular gender is suited for some activities than the other. Accordingly, in some cases individuals who have lesser ability than me are promoted in preference of me just because of their gender.
I conclude that power in the social world makes some people possess higher authority in the social arena hence controlling others. Gender differences present notable power differences at the workplace in the Asian countries with men essentially having command over women. Age gaps also make some people more powerful than others. Furthermore, some people have power over others mainly because they produce more quality service following a favourable environment. Power mainly exercised through leadership, controlling and directing the activities of other people at the work place.


Benjamin, J. (2013). The Bonds of Love. Psychoanalysis, feminism and the problem of domination. New York: Pantheon books.
Harris, C. (June1993). Whiteness as Property. The Harvard Law Review 106 (8) pp. 1707-1791. Retrieved from http://www. jstor. org/stable/1341787
Foucault, M. (1982). The Subject and Power. Chicago Journals. pp. 777-795. Retrieved from http://www. jstor. org/stable/1343197
Mann, M. (1986). The Sources of Social Power. A History of Power from the Beginning to AD 1760. Cambridge University Press. Retrieved From www. cambridge. org/9780521308519