Values and power as social structures

Brad C. Anderson

Recall the ability of structures to enable or constrain action within a social setting. Values are a structure, as is power. In Chapter III, we discussed that we might choose to act to reinforce those structures or changes them.

The more we understand the nature of the structures active in our organizations, the more we can act effectively. We can consciously choose which structures to reinforce and which ones to change. We can identify processes to change those structures and identify how the organization might support or resist our efforts.

The above chapter sought to deepen your understanding of the interplay between values and power. Values and power on their own, however, are insufficient for wise action. You also require rationality. In the same way that values and power are intertwined, so too are rationality and power. You will see in the next chapter that the relationship between rationality and power is rich and deep. Let’s now turn to explore this relationship.


In This Chapter, You Learned

How values enable and constrain action

  • Values enable by motivating action
  • Values enable by providing access to resources needed to allow actions to happen
  • Values constrain by creating active resistance
  • Values constrain by creating passive lack of support

How individuals may overcome the constraining nature of structures

  • By using tactics of power, such as producing power relations, defining rationality, and so on, individuals may overcome constraining structures

How values and power interact

  • It is people’s exercise of power that gives structures the force to enable or constrain actions
  • Values guide the use of power
  • People use power to pursue their values
  • People use power to constrain the implementation of conflicting values


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Values and power as social structures Copyright © 2020 by Brad C. Anderson is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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