The researchers discovered that the brains of the people who had been primed through the essay activity to feel powerless showed more activity in that region than others. People who had been primed to feel powerful, on the other hand, showed dampened activity. Those in the neutral condition did not differ significantly from either of the power conditions.
Sukhvinder Obhi and Jeremy Hogeveen of Wilfrid Laurier University in Ontario, along with Michael Inzlicht of the University of Toronto, randomly assigned participants to write essays either about an experience where someone had power over them, a time when they had power over someone else, or simply what happened the day before they showed up for the study.
* Havel, Václav, et al. (1985). Keane, John, ed. The Power of the Powerless: Citizens against the state in central-eastern Europe. Armonk, NY: M. E. Sharpe
Please join us beginning Wednesday, November 16th as Rev. Andrew Stehlik, Th.D. leads a discussion regarding Vaclav Havel’s “The Power of the Powerless”. For a downloadable PDF of the essay click .
The greengrocer’s slogan can and will be ignored by most customers, but it became part of the panorama. Surrounded by thousands of posters, every member of the society knows where he lives, he is supposed to accept the power of ideology, otherwise he will be crushed. In this world, citizens are both instruments of the system and its victims. In each of us, Havel argues, there is a willingness to follow the crowd and embrace a destiny created for us, a “pseudolife”.
In the classroom, we as teachers of speech must be aware of theimpact of these variables. First, we must instruct our students inthe ramifications of powerful and powerless speech styles. We haveall intuitively known that the manner in which one speakssignificantly affects the listener's perception and image of thespeaker. This study adds further emphasis on this need to becognizant of the impact of our language choices and deliverytechniques.
Although the two dimensional approach to power delves deeper than the first into the nature of power and powerlessness by involving analyses of potential issues, grievances, nondecision-making and non-participation, Both Lukes and Gaventa find that it is on the same level as the first dimension in that it also emphasizes observable conflict only. Of course it is true that the first does stress only overt while the second stresses both overt and/or covert conflict. Nonetheless, an affinity between the two results in their belief that where there is conflict, there is an element of power in decision making and, for the second dimension, in nondecision-making. Barach and Baratz (as cited in Lukes,1974:19) states that if «there is no conflict, overt or covert, the presumption must be that there is consensus on the prevailing allocation of values, in which case nondecision-making is impossible.» Here, there is obviously no consideration of latent conflict or attention as to how interests not consciously articulated may fit into the power relationship.
“The primary excusatory function of ideology, therefore, is to provide people, both as victims and pillars of the post-totalitarian system, with the illusion that the system is in harmony with the human order and the order of the universe,” explains Havel. Ideology creates a parallel reality, by substituting the requirements of life with the requirements of the system. In this new world, fed by rituals, the power of bureaucracy is called the power of the people, the repression of culture is called the development of culture, persecution becomes eliberation. With his poster, the greengrocer declares that he accepts this new reality. The regime survives as long as people inside it live within the lie.
First, the individual variables could be isolated more preciselythan has been done in the past. This could give a more specificcomparison of paravocal phenomena and speaker effectiveness. Also, itwould be of interest to examine how content and language variablesare related. Can a good speech override a powerless speech style? Tostudy this, a well structured speech could be delivered withdifferent levels and types of power variables, much like Erickson, etal. did in their study.
In order to do that, first he explains the nature of the Communist regimes, which he describes as “post-totalitarian” systems. Such regimes survive through well-developed mechanisms of manipulation and guide themselves after an extremely flexible ideology, Havel argues. If individuals exercising their authority were crucial in “classic dictatorships,” the post-totalitarian regime has no problem to reproduce itself. Its ideology is dominant, as it has the power to dehumanize and anonymize.
Passive acceptance of situations or circumstances that are in conflict with one's interests occur even when the subordinated realise they are being repressed. They submit quietly because of fear of sanctions but also because they have gone through a «psychological adaptation to the state of being without power» (Gaventa:16). They recognize their powerlessness and see no possibility to reverse it and therefore submit to their hopeless situation with lethargic acceptance.
“The Power of the Powerless”: The Case of the Greengrocer 1 Dec 2014 In 1978, when Václav Havel wrote “The Power of the Powerless,” the Communist A few months after he wrote this essay, Havel was arrested.