One the basis of the main source of the power exercised by the authority-holder, several kinds of authority is identified by the social scientists.
1. Traditional Authority:
Authority based on customs and conventions is called Traditional Authority. The authority of a village elder is a traditional authority. In the political system of Britain, the authority of the King and the Prime Minister mainly rests upon customs, conventions and usages and not upon constitutional laws. Hence their authority can be designated as authority resting upon conventions. It can be called Traditional Authority.
2. Constitutional Authority:
The legitimate power vested by the constitution of a state in an office or an institution is called Constitutional Authority. The authority of the President of India, the Prime Minister of India, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, the Parliament, the Cabinet, the Governor of a State, the Chief Minister of a state is a constitutional authority.
3. Legal Authority:
Power conferred upon a person or an office by the laws of the state is called Legal Authority. A Deputy Commissioner, a magistrate, an income tax officer and all government officials exercise legal authority.
4. Legitimate Authority:
In fact the term Legitimate Authority is quite a misnomer. Authority is authority only when it is legitimate and enjoys the confidence and recognition of the people as a legitimate or rightful power. The term legitimate authority simply emphasizes the legitimate quality of authority.
5. Religious Authority:
Authority sanctified by the tenets of a religion is called religious authority. The authority of the Head Priest of Sri Akal Takhat is a religious authority. The authority of Roman Pope as the spiritual ruler of the Catholics is a religious authority.
6. Charismatic Authority:
Authority based upon the personal qualities, the personality of the person wielding power over the people, is called charismatic authority. Charisma means charm or personal power, the ability to inspire loyalty and even devotion in others.
Personal charisma of the authority-holder always supplements the legal authority of the leader. Sh. Jawahar Lai Nehru had a personal charisma and this greatly enhanced his authority as the Prime Minister of India.
7. Political Authority:
The power resulting from the status and stature of a person in the hierarchy of a political party or a group is Political Authority. For example authority of the Congress President and the authority of the President of BJP and every other head of a political party or prominent and popular political leaders are examples of political authority.
Besides these seven major forms of authority, we can also refer to the power of various governmental institutions and their authorities. Powers exercised by the legislature are often collectively referred to as the legislative authority.