Correct sequence of four forms of power in society in relation to media – Series 12

Asked in paper II- June 2007- Mass Communication

Find out the correct sequence of four forms of power in society in relation to media :

  1. economic, political, coercive, symbolic
  2. political, symbolic, economic, coercive
  3. symbolic, coercive, political, economic
  4. coercive, symbolic, political, economic

Answer- economic, political, coercive, symbolic


John B. Thompson (1995) distinguishes four forms of power.

  • Economic power: “Economic power stems from human productive activity, that is, activity concerned with the provision of the means of subsistence through the extraction of raw materials and their transformation into goods which can be consumed or exchanged in a market”.
  • Political power: Political power “stems from the activity of coordinating individuals and regulating the patterns of their interaction”.
  • Coercive power: “Coercive power involves the use, or threatened use, of physical force to subdue or conquer an opponent”. such as coercive institutions (military, police, carceral institutions, etc).
  • Symbolic power: Symbolic power is the “capacity to intervene in the course of events, to influence the actions of others and indeed to create events, by means of the production and transmission of symbolic forms”. such as cultural institutions (church, schools, universities, media, etc).
Reference- Fuchs, Christian. 2015. Power in the Age of Social Media. Heathwood Journal of Critical Theory 1 (1): 1-29.

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