Power of Social Change

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Updated: Jun 29, 2022
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Eric Liu’s You’re More Powerful Than You Think: A Citizen’s Guide to Making Change focuses on educating the public on civic power. In the book, Liu demonstrates how citizens are endowed with significant power, but need to be taught to realize and appreciate this power. The book is timely written for the 21st century audience in a period when the world, particularly the United States, is experiencing political turbulence. The book highlights how people are fed up with political as well as public life.

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The Founding Fathers were opposed to the idea of a monarchy or one-party system. Instead, the Founding Fathers came up with an adversarial system in which groups are given the opportunity to acquire power but no group could dominate over another. The system proved to be effective, as it promoted competition, and prevents the government on forcing a monopoly onto its citizens. Current politics is mere a struggle for power in an annoyingly incremental, unethical, and disreputable manner. Although Liu shows a negative approach to politics, he has succeeded in educating the youth that power can be honorable and wonderful if individuals have the will and courage to utilize it in an effective manner.

Liu defines power as the ability to get others to do what one wants. This itself makes power seem inherently evil, however, Liu developed the book around the concept of power being neutral. The author avails several examples on how citizens can use their power to achieve greatness. He offers examples of individual leaders, civil entrepreneurs, as well as activists and how they have effectively used their power in bringing about social change. His examples include campaigns on various issues in Missouri and how activists have done significant work in promoting social change. He also offers the example of Seattle and how small groups worked well in highlighting the issue of minimum wage, thereby advocating for an improvement. Such campaigns, although conducted by only small groups of citizens, have demonstrated how the public can use their power in promoting social change within their areas of residence and elsewhere. Liu, thus, compares such group leaders to leaders in history whose role demonstrated to the world that citizen power should not be ignored. The author gives these examples to show that if the people know their power and utilize it effectively, they can transform their societies. Although Liu’s examples appear to be small, the author connects them to demonstrate how cooperation among the public can be critical in promoting social change that may initially appear impossible.

Although there is no set number of laws of power, Liu the book notes that there are three laws of power that are recurring. Liu identifies these laws as Power concentrates (law #1), Power justifies itself (law #2), and Power is infinite (law #3). There are also six main sources of power; namely wealth, physical force, social norms, state action, numbers, and ideas.

The first law implies that power tends to make one more powerful. Therefore, just as the rich always get richer, the powerful always get more powerful. On the other hand, the second law implies that those with power or those in power always find ways of justifying their power, as history is written by the victor. Conversely, the third law of power, according to Liu, is that power is infinite. This implies that power in the civic world is not a zero-sum game.

Besides discussing the three laws of power; Eric Liu’s book also goes ahead to recommend various strategies of using power for civic action. These are adjusting the arena, re-rigging the rules, attacking your opponent’s plan, describing the alternative, organizing in narratives, making the fight a fable, acting exponentially, acting reciprocally, and performing power.

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Power Of Social Change. (2022, Jun 28). Retrieved from https://papersowl.com/examples/power-of-social-change/