Sociologist Stein Ringen explores the art of governance, and the importance of the personal qualities of our leaders - and argues that success or failure depends not on how much power you have, but how well you use it.
In answer to the question “what is power?”, the accepted political science definition is: “the capacity to get things done.”
But sociologist Stein Ringen believes it is time to overturn this consensus. Instead, he argues, power is really less that it’s been cracked up to be. It is not at all a capacity but only a certificate to be the decider. No more than a driving licence says how good a driver the holder is, does power say how good a “getter-done” the decider is. Power puts you in the driving seat, but from then on what counts is not how much power you have but how well you use it. That’s why powerful governments often fail.
Join Stein Ringen at the RSA as he explore the art of governance, and shows how success or failure comes from the leadership qualities of those in office, and how “getting things done” depends on the personal qualities of the decider more than the structural conditions he or she operates within.
Speaker: Stein Ringen, emeritus professor of Sociology and Social Policy at Green Templeton College, University of Oxford.
Respondent: Chris Huhne, journalist and former Liberal Democrat MP.
Chair: Anthony Painter, director, independent review of the Police Federation.