7 Important Features of “Authority” in Politics

Analysing the above definitions as well as the views of Robert Dahl, we can describe the following as the features of Authority:

1. Authority is legitimate power:

It is the legitimate, recognized and accepted power of the authority-holder. It is backed by the Constitution of the state or laws of the state or customs or traditions.

2. Authority is a relationship:

Like every other relationship, Authority involves a minimum of two actors one of whom has the recognised power/right (authority) to use power over the other and the other upon whom this power is exercised.

3. Authority is a recognised power:

The subjects recognise the right and legitimacy of the authority-holder to use his power and consider it as their duty to obey his commands.

4. Authority commands obedience:

An authority-holder enjoys dominance over his subjects. He can command obedience.

5. Authority is always defined, limited and recognised:

It is defined either by the constitution or law or tradition or convention. Its scope is always defined.

6. Legitimacy is the chief quality of Authority:

It is legitimacy which makes authority just and effective. “Legitimacy is the quality which makes the exercise of power by an authority-holder just and effective.” The success of authority depends upon the degree of legitimacy that it enjoys.

7. Since authority is legitimate power, it is also rational and accountable:

Responsibility and accountability are the essential elements of authority. Authority- holders are always accountable in respect or the nature and amount of power exercised by them over their subjects. They cannot cross the limits of their authority.

These features of Authority clearly bring out the nature of Authority as a relationship involving the exercise of legitimate power by the authority-holders over their subjects. The government has the authority to exercise power over the people.