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Definition: Authority is a concept whose development is most often associated with the German sociologist Max Weber who saw it as a particular form of power. Authority is defined and supported by the norms of a social system and generally accepted as legitimate by those who participate in it. Most forms of authority are not attached to individuals, but rather to a social position, or status, that they occupy in a social system.

Examples: We tend to obey the orders of police officers, for example, not because of who they are as individuals, but because we accept their right to have power over us in certain situations and we assume others will support that right should we choose to challenge it.

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Your Citation
Crossman, Ashley. "Authority." ThoughtCo, Aug. 27, 2020, Crossman, Ashley. (2020, August 27). Authority. Retrieved from Crossman, Ashley. "Authority." ThoughtCo. (accessed May 29, 2023).