Society And Social Power
BY JANANI HARISH
Society is the source of immense power. Over the past few centuries humanity has recorded phenomenal growth in its collective capacity for accomplishment, as reflected in the 12-fold growth in global per capita income since 1800. The remarkable achievements in living standards, longevity, science, technology, industry, education, democracy, human rights, peace and global governance are the result of the exponential development of the capacity of society to harness human energies and convert them into social power for productive purposes. Today, humanity possesses the power and capabilities needed to fully meet the multi-dimensional challenges confronting global society. The source of this energy is people. Human energy is transformed into social power by the increasing reach, frequency and complexity of human relationships. Society is a complex living network of organized relationships between people. Its power issues from channelizing our collective energies in productive ways by means of organizing principles such as coordination, systems, specialization of function, hierarchy of authority, and integration. This immense social power remains largely underutilized. Social science needs to evolve a comprehensive, trans-disciplinary understanding of the roots of social power and the process by which it is generated, distributed and applied. This knowledge is the essential foundation for formulating effective social policies capable of eradicating forever persistent poverty, unemployment and social inequality. This article is based on a series of lectures delivered by the author in the WAAS-WUC course on “Toward a Trans-disciplinary Science of Society” at Dubrovnik on September 1-3, 2014. It traces the development of social power in different fields to show that human and social capital are inexhaustible in potential. The more we harness them, the more they grow. Unleashing, directing, channeling and converting human potential into social power can eliminate all the problems confronting the world today.