Respect for Authority

(This is a current page, from the Patterns of Power Edition 3 book contents.  An archived copy of this page is held at http://www.patternsofpower.org/edition03/4311.htm)

Some people have been granted moral authority.  For example:

  • Some individuals are recognised as leaders within a family.
  • Some are esteemed for their knowledge or perceived wisdom.
  • Religious groups apply moral influence on their adherents; and some apply religious law, which is discussed in the next chapter (5.3.3). As noted below (, religious authority is very powerful but can be problematic.
  • If religious leaders want to be directly involved in governing the country, they may become politicians – in which case they are exerting two kinds of power: Moral and Political.
  • The UN has some influence, based on the legitimacy of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (Appendix 1).
  • Some people – such as politicians, managers and those in some professions – have been granted a leadership position in their sphere of influence. Even if they were not appointed for moral leadership as such, they might be looked up to by those over whom they wield power and might therefore able to exercise moral persuasion.

The amount of power wielded by these different forms of authority varies between cultures.