The Power Imbalance

One of the difficulties I had a long time ago was trying to explain to high functioning individuals this notion of power imbalance. If “equals” in terms of status and power have a frank and forthright exchange and they are both able to stand up for themselves with a modicum of assertion, there is no power imbalance.

However, should a powerful professor {for example} behave in a similar manner to an undergraduate, there is a marked power imbalance, and the undergraduate might feel threatened and fearful. Someone akin to God, and who has the say so, to an extent, over their degree result, might be perceived as being highly critical. The student might then shit a large and uncomfortable brick.

Not everyone high functioning is blessed with warmth and sensitivity.

So, to use a possibly imaginary and illusory example.

Let us say a whole bunch of “posh” academics who command research budgets which run to millions of pounds and with a rounded up annual salary of say ~ £100,000 or more are talking about a single individual.

Let us say that individual, who is retired, is not in possession of the best of health and has an annual income of £12,000. He has no research budget and has to think very carefully about spending the 1000 euros needed to fix his 10-year-old car. The value of the car if it was left hand drive is ~ 6000 euros. It isn’t left hand drive.

Is there a power imbalance in this imaginary example?

Are the purveyors of wisdom in essence kicking some poor bastard who is already down?

Are they circling the wagons to keep that Apache out?

Do you think that there is a blind dog’s chance that said individual could get those in “power” to realise there is a power imbalance and that they are bullying by talking about the single poor person behind his back and without including him in the conversation?

In effect they are ganging up.

Or do you think that they will feel thoroughly justified and utterly entitled to behave just how they wish?

Do they the patrician, the wise, the great and the good, know what is best for that poor bastard?

And then if in their grace they offer him a fait accompli?

Will he doff his cap and accept graciously in awe of their magnificent benevolence?