Nature of power

Syllabus extract

1.1.0 Definitions of Global, Politics, Power

1.1 Defining Global, Politics, Power


1.1 Defining Global, Politics, Power




Read and summarise pages 1-4.

Nye, Joseph S. "The Changing Nature of World Power." Political Science Quarterly 105, no. 2 (1990): 177-92.

What is global politics_ Reading.docx


2021 class submissions:

Dennis H. Wrong (1970) [Dennis Hume Wrong was a Canadian-born American sociologist and emeritus professor in the Department of Sociology at New York University], said "The probability that one actor within a social relationship will be in a position to carry out his own will despite resistance, regardless of the basis on which this probability rests" On Max Weber's Definition of Power - Isidor Wallimann, Nicholas Ch. Tatsis, George V. Zito, 1977 (

"A relationship between two political actors in which actor A has the ability to control the mind and actions of the actor. Power may comprise anything that establishes and maintains control of man over man (and it) covers all social relationships which serve that end, from physical violence to the most subtle psychological ties by which one mind controls another." Hans J. Morgenthau, Politics Among Nations: The Struggle for Power and Peace, 5th ed. (New York, 1973), p. 9.

"power is the ability to influence the behavior of others to get the outcomes one wants. But there are several ways to affect the behavior of others. You can coerce them with threats; you can induce them with payments; or you can attract and co-opt them to want what you want." - Nye Jr, Joseph S. Soft power: The means to success in world politics. Public affairs, 2004.

Power is held by a particular group in society at the expense of the rest of the society - Karl Marx

Homework: share a song about power to our class Team. The song can be in any language.

We understand that many songs about power may contain bad language or violence.

1.1.1 Types of Power: Joseph S. Nye- Hard, Soft, Smart, Sharp

1.1.1 Types of Power


1.1.1 Types of Power WS


Summary video

For each type of power you should be comfortable:

  1. explaining what is meant by the term (e.g. what is Soft power?)

  2. examining the use of that type of power in a case study (e.g. is Brazil's soft power increasing or decreasing?)

"Soft power"?

What is soft power?
Joseph S. Nye introducing his idea in 1990:
JOURNAL ARTICLE Soft Power Joseph S. Nye, Jr. Foreign Policy Foreign Policy No. 80, Twentieth Anniversary (Autumn, 1990)

In 2004 he published Soft Power: The Means to Success in World Politics by Joseph S. Nye. New York, Public Affairs, 2004.

If you prefer to listen rather than read, there are many interviews, videos and podcasts of Nye discussing soft power.

Enter 'soft power' into any news search engine and you will find a lot of articles discussing 'soft power'. The term has become so popular it has moved from the academic sphere to the public. These are only three possible case studies.

Introducing two key theories of International Relations

  • As well as his theories of power, Joseph S. Nye is known as being a key thinker in Liberalism.

  • Realism and Liberalism are two important theories of International Relations.

  • Visit A World of Theory to learn more.

1.1.2 Alternative Discussions of Power

Nye's theory of hard, soft, smart, sharp power is only one theory of how to consider power. There are many other theories of power. Nye's approach is particularly focused on the international scale of analysis. When looking at national and local scales other theories of power may be more appropriate.

Introducing the six levels of analysis

"It is a central element of the global politics course that the key political concepts and contemporary political issues are studied at a number of levels: global, international, regional, national, local and community. These levels help students to appreciate that what may initially appear to be a global issue actually has many local implications and vice versa, and that decision-making on the same phenomenon may look quite different depending on whether it is analysed on a systemic or sub-systemic level. The appropriate level of analysis depends on the issue at stake and students’ objectives in a task. Brief explanations of the various levels are given below. " From the IB Syllabus.

  • What does power look like at each level?

Levels of Analysis

Case Study: Power in the United States Justice System

We are going to watch the 13th in class over two lessons. The 2016 documentary looks at racial inequality in the justice and prison system of the USA.

Two guests will join us after the documentary for a Q+A about Black Lives Matter, anti-racism, and the role of activism in today's society.

You will be asked to prepare your questions in advance for these experts.

1.1.2 A The 13th Amendment

Worksheet A

1.1.2 C Power and the 13th Amendment

Worksheet B

Sally Strange and Stephen Lukes


It is always important that we think critically of our sources.

Criticising and critiquing are different.

  • Criticising is when we take a negative view of a source.

  • Critiquing is to carefully evaluate in a methodical and anayltical way.


  1. Find one article or YouTube video that presents a critique of the 13th.

  2. In groups debate how the documentary could have been improved.

Introducing different individual and group perspectives

"Throughout the course, it is also necessary to approach the key political concepts and contemporary political issues through various individual and group perspectives. These help students to develop an appreciation for multiple points of view and to deepen their understanding of the complexity of many issues encountered in the study of global politics: our unique personalities, life experiences and the social and cultural environments of which we are a part influence how we act in global politics. Three examples of important perspectives are gender, ethnicity and religion; additional individual and group perspectives will be relevant depending on the issue at stake.." From the IB Syllabus.

  • How does power manifest for different groups of people?

  • How might people of different groups perceive power?

  • How might people of different groups perceive the United States justice system?

Individual and Group Perspectives

1.1.3 Multilateralism and Unilateralism

1.1.3 Multilateralism v Unilateralism


1.1.3 Multilateralism v Unilateralism


Summarising 1.1 The Nature of Power

1.1 Summary


1.1 Power Summary

Simple Worksheet

Study tip

It is a lot easier to revise if you make short summaries each time we finish a section of the course.


You are more likely to remember something that you have actively summarised by hand, than if you copy and paste notes!

Example 25 mark essay questions:

Discuss the effectiveness of two types of power and their impact on global politics. (Nov 2019)

Evaluate the claim that power in global politics is about possession of resources. (Nov 2020)

End of Section 1.1