Tag Power

Power and love

Power without love is reckless and abusive, and love without power is sentimental and anemic. Power at its best is love implementing the demands of justice, and justice at its best is power correcting
everything that stands against love.

—Martin Luther King, Jr., “Where Do We Go From Here?

Originally published at culture-making.com.

Class, power, and empathy

This is a fascinating study on class and empathy. This summary explains the finding—that people with less education (their proxy for class) did better at recognizing others’ emotions—in terms of peer relationships (judging when and how to ask your friends for help), but it seems like they have a lot to do with power dynamics as well (judging how to avoid negative attention from those who have power over you).

The volunteers did a test of emotion perception, in which they were instructed to look at pictures of faces and indicate which emotions each face was displaying. People with more education performed worse on the task than people with less education. In another study, university students who were of higher social standing (determined from each student’s self-reported perceptions of his or her family’s socioeconomic status) had a more difficult time accurately reading the emotions of a stranger during a group job interview.

These results suggest that people of upper-class status aren’t very good at recognizing the emotions other people are feeling. The researchers speculate that this is because they can solve their problems, like the daycare example, without relying on others—they aren’t as dependent on the people around them.
A final experiment found that, when people were made to feel that they were at a lower social class than they actually were, they got better at reading emotions.

Originally published at culture-making.com.

Powerlessness and shopping

Powerlessness and consumption can seem a bit at odds. There is, though, significant distinction to be made between feeling and being powerless.

a Jezebel post by SadieStein, 27 June 2008 :: first posted here 27 June 2008

Researchers at Northwestern have found that feeling powerless leads people to shell out for expensive status items to bolster their egos — explaining why those deep in debt continue to spend. “After recalling situations where they were powerless, participants were willing to pay more for items that signal status, like silk ties and fur coats, but not products like minivans and dryers. They also agreed to pay more for a framed picture of their university if it was portrayed as rare and exclusive.” Okay, can’t really comprehend a situation demeaning enough that we’d be willing to pay any amount of money for a framed picture of our alma mater but who hasn’t restored a flagging sense of self with a handsome necktie from time to time? [Science Daily]

Originally published at culture-making.com.