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Power Consciousness: A Comparative Analysis

Joel D. Aberbach
The American Political Science Review
Vol. 71, No. 4 (Dec., 1977), pp. 1544-1560
DOI: 10.2307/1961495
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1961495
Page Count: 17
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Power Consciousness: A Comparative Analysis
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Abstract

This article, drawing on recent studies of class consciousness and powerlessness explained in individual versus system level terms, develops and analyzes an operational measure of @`power consciousness.@' Power consciousness is defined as a person's evaluation of his or her political power position and his or her explanation of the causes of any inadequacies or advantages perceived in this position. The operational measure of power consciousness arrays responses to two items on political power satisfaction (one of them open-ended) along a dimension which ranges from satisfaction, to dissatisfaction ascribed to personal failures of the respondent, to dissatisfaction explained in terms of problems with the political system. Survey data are utilized for a comparative analysis of whites' and blacks' scores on the power consciousness measure. The following topics receive detailed attention: the place of power consciousness in the matrix of power measures; its relationship to background factors, especially level of education; its relationship to indicators of political discontent; and the impact of power consciousness on levels and styles of political behavior. The analysis is followed by suggestions for the development of future work in this area.

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