Social Power in the Central Mesa Verde Region, A.D. 1150-1290
Lipe, William D.
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Social power ( cf. Mann 1986) refers to the ability of individuals or groups to control or direct the actions of other individuals or groups. This can be accomplished by actual or threatened physical coercion, by providing or withholding things of value, or by simple persuasion. The "things of value" often involved in the exercise or acceptance of social power differentials can include economic goods and services, mates, ideological approval, religious benefaction, and protection in wartime. Social power differentials are often legitimated in secular or religious rituals; the display and manipulation of potent and generally accepted symbols and rituals are regular aspects of the exercise of power (Kertzer 1988). In all but the most despotic of societies the exercise of power requires some compliance on the part of those affected by it. However, the inequalities fostered by power differentials may promote efforts to resist and undermine powerful individuals and groups. And competition for power often leads to the presence of multiple loci of power in communities, societies, or regions. The power aspect of a society thus constitutes a dynamic field with multiple actors employing multiple strategies within parameters set by accepted norms, which themselves are affected by the dynamics of the field at the same time they give structure to it. Archaeologists must base their inferences about how power was distributed and exercised on the material evidence of power differentials and of behavioral and symbolic strategies for acquiring, maintaining, or resisting power.