referent power

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In one of the many available typologies of power, J. R. P. French and B. Raven (‘The Bases of Social Power’, in D. Cartwright (ed.), Studies in Social Power, 1959) distinguished five types of power, according to their sources. These are the (self-explanatory) ‘reward’ and ‘coercive’ types; ‘legitimate power’ which stems from holding an office that is acknowledged to convey rights of decision-making over others (in other words authority); ‘expert power’, stemming from possession of a limited skill or ability, or access to scarce knowledge; and ‘referent power’, or the ability of one person to influence others, because of the latter's degree of identification with the former. Like other typologies of power, it is hard to see how this one is exhaustive, since it omits (for example) power stemming from control of a strategic channel of communication.

Subjects: Sociology.

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