Sociologists usually define power as the ability to impose one's will on others, even if those others resist in some way.
- "By power is meant that opportunity existing within a social relationship which permits one to carry out one's own will even against resistance and regardless of the basis on which this opportunity rests."
- Max Weber, Basic Concepts in Sociology
"Power" in the sociological sense subsumes both physical power and political power. In some ways it more closely resembles what everyday English-speakers call "influence".
More generally, one could define "power" as the more or less unilateral ability (real or perceived) or potential to bring about significant change, usually in peopleâ€™s lives, through the actions of oneself or of others.
The exercise of power seems endemic to humans as social and gregarious beings.
Power manifests itself in a relational manner: one cannot meaningfully say that a particular person "has power" without also specifying the other parties to the social relationship.