Why or why not would you agree or disagree with Blau's theory in Chapter 9 that the emergence of power structure is necessary for a group of people to engage in collective action as a coordinated...

Why or why not would you agree or disagree with Blau's theory in Chapter 9 that the emergence of power structure is necessary for a group of people to engage in collective action as a coordinated unit? Under what conditions do you think it might be possible for people who are equals to work together to accomplish some goal either long term, or short term?

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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I would tend to agree with the idea that people cannot usually engage in collective action as a group unless there is a power structure in place.  There may be times when they can engage in such action as equals, but that will only happen among very small groups in very limited circumstances.

Whenever you have a group of people, you will have a variety of opinions and a variety of goals and desires.  In order to engage in collective action, you have to get all of the members of your group to agree to a common goal and to a single way of pursuing that goal.  The more people you have in your group, the less likely it is that all of the people will agree on what goals to set and how to achieve them.  This will be true even when you have a clear group goal, such as when an entire sports team shares the goal of winning a game.  Even then, you will still have many opinions about how to achieve the goal. 

Because of this likely diversity of attitudes, there needs to be a power structure.  Someone needs to be able to tell the other people which goals will be pursued and how that pursuit will be accomplished.  This is only possible if there is a power structure in which some people are able to require people below them in the power structure to do things.

From this, it should be clear that smaller groups would be more able to work collectively without a power structure.  There is less likely to be diversity of opinion among a small group.  In addition, the members of a small group may be very close to one another in emotional terms.  This will allow them to trust one another and to go along with others’ ideas even if they do not necessarily agree with them wholeheartedly.

Thus, I would argue that Blau’s idea is generally correct outside of a few situations involving small groups of people who get along well together.

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