FORMS OF POWER:
Forms of power will be distinguished on the basis of the mode of power involved — that is, according to the ways in which power can be exercised. I shall begin with coercive power.
Coercive power is the capacity of A to get B to act in conformity with his intentions, and contrary to B’s wishes, by making things unpleasant for B in order to secure his compliance or by threatening to make things unpleasant for B if he does not comply. When A exercises coercive power, B complies with A’s intentions because A has made doing so less unattractive to him, at the time of his compliance, than anything else. For example, a government extends the franchise in the face of a general strike because yielding to the demands of the strikers seems more eligible than standing firm. Or a person who is exposed to blackmail does what is wanted of him because compliance seems less unattractive than resistance,
it might be said that when A exercises coercive power, B regards himself, at the time of his compliance, as worse off then he would otherwise have been, but as likely to be better off than he would have been had he resisted or continued to resist. But this account would be unsatisfactory since B’s compliance may be due to some attribute of character rather than to the belief that he is likely to be better off. B may comply and at the same time believe it would be more sensible to resist. (Equally, he may resist and think it wiser to comply.) It is more accurate, therefore, simply to say that in complying B does what seems least unattractive to him at the time.
The unpleasant consequences for B, actual or prospective, which are involved in an exercise of coercive power, may be consequences which directly affect him or they may be consequences which indirectly affect him by affecting others to whom he is attached by bonds of affection, sympathy, interest, responsibility, and so on.16 Furthermore, they may be consequences which deprive him or another either of...