collective and distributive power

In his essay on’The Distribution of Power in American Society’ (inStructure and Process in Modern Societies, 1960), Talcott Parsons distinguishes the distributive aspects of power (‘power by A over B’), from its collective aspects (‘the power of A and B together’). The former are to the fore where the relationship between A and B is a zero-sum game; that is, when there is a fixed amount of power to be distributed among participants, and for one member to gain power another must lose; the latter emerge where individuals in co-operation can enhance their joint power over a third party.

Dictionary of sociology. 2013.

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