POWER AND AUTHORITY IN THE FAMILY 1
DONALD M. WOLFE
The purpose of this study is to investigate several possible sources of power in the husband-wife relationship and their effects on the family authority structure. This report is divided into four sections. The first offers a conceptual analysis of power and authority in general, and suggests ways in which these concepts may be used in the study of the family. The second presents a diagrammatic model by which to compare various family authority structures. The third section describes procedures employed in an empirical study of family authority structure. The fourth presents the results of that study.
The theoretical orientation upon which this analysis is based is primarily the group dynamics enlargement upon the Lewinian conceptualization of social power (1, 6, 7), and the development of the concept "authority" by Dubin (2).
Definition 1:Power is the potential ability of one person, O, to induce forces on another person, P, toward (or against) movement or change in a given direction, within a given behavior region, at a given time.
In general, O and P may be either persons or groups, but here we shall be concerned only with persons, i.e., the husband and wife in the nuclear family. Implicit in this definition is that this potential -- power of O over P -- is made up of the maximum forces O can induce on P, over and above the maximum forces P can exert in resistance to O's inductions. In the family setting, the husband may be able to influence his wife with respect to caring____________________