Bertram Raven

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Bertram H. Raven (born September 26, 1926) is an American psychologist and Professor Emeritus at the Psychology Department at the University of California, Los Angeles. He is perhaps best known for his early work in collaboration with John R. P. French, with whom he developed an analysis of the Five Bases of social power.


  • Harold Kelley’s long-term relationship with John Thibaut, from 1953 until Thibaut’s demise in 1986, is considered an exemplary model of scientific collaboration. It began with their being invited to write a major chapter on group problem-solving and process for the Handbook of Social Psychology (1954). That chapter, updated in 1968, not only became a major resource in that field, but it led them to a separate volume, The Social Psychology of Groups (1959), which became one of the most influential works in social psychology.

"The bases of social power." 1959


John R.P. French, and Bertram Raven. "The bases of social power." in: Dorwin Cartwright (Ed). (1959). Studies in social power, Oxford, England: Univer. Michigan. pp. 150-167

See John R. P. French#"The bases of social power." 1959

"Conflict and power." 1970


Bertram H. Raven, and Arie W. Kruglanski (1970). "Conflict and power." in: P. Swingle (Ed.) The structure of conflict, New York: Academic Press. p. 69-109.

  • Tension between two or several social entities (individual, group or organizations) which arises from incompatibility of actual or desired responses.
    • p. 70
  • Manifest bases for conflict may be there in actual inequities in education, but the possibilities for conflict are further increased as the result of underlying factors transferred from other situations.
    • p. 72
  • under reward power, communications are likely to consist of promises and exchanges of information regarding the positive outcomes each side has in store for the other, thus increasing the likelihood of a mutually satisfactory agreement.
    • p. 91

"Influence, Power, Religion, and the Mechanisms of Social Control," 1999


Bertram H. Raven (1999). "Kurt Lewin address: Influence, Power, Religion, and the Mechanisms of Social Control." Journal of Social Issues. 55(1):161-186.

  • I will show how a model might be applied to social control, and then more specifically focus on religions as mechanisms of social control.
    • p. 161 Lead sentence
  • Social power [is the] potential influence, the ability of a person or group to induce or prevent change in another. Social control [is] the process by which members of a social entity are influenced to adhere to values and principles of proper behavior deemed appropriate for that social entity.
    • p. 161
  • Parents control their children in the interests of the family, universities exercise control over professors and students, government exercises control over citizens, and religions control their adherents... Society's need for social control was stated most dramatically by Hobbes (1651/1958), who observed that in the "natural" state (without social control), as each person attempted to satisfy his/her individual needs and desires at the expense of others, humankind would be in a war of all against all, such that life would be "nasty, brutish, and short."
    • p. 161
  • The concepts of social power and social control are closely interrelated, since the process of social control involves the exercise of the bases and resources of power. But both terms also have their negative and even threatening connotations. All of us, or at least most of us, like to think that we are independent agents, and being subjected to social power restricts that sense of independence. The thought of being "socially controlled" also brings forth strong negative feelings. Yet, when we consider it more carefully, power and influence are part of our everyday interaction and contribute to individual and collective benefit. Similarly for social control.
    • p. 161
  • While going through training in the army, I was very puzzled about the number of things which we had to do... why learn to lace our shoes a particular way, walk back and forth through puddles, salute commissioned officers... Only much later did I realize that, in audition to combat training, basic training was a stage setting device, especially for the establishment of legitimate position power. Those in command were not ready to put their trust in informational power: Particularly in combat conditions, officers would not be able to give us reasons. Coercive power, under limited surveillance, would also not be sufficient. We must learn, as Tennyson said of the Light Brigade, that when ordered to do something, "ours is not to reason why, ours is but to do or die." So it was important that we were ordered to do meaningless things, and learn to obey legitimate authority without question, while coercive power was still hovering in the background.
    • p. 176, as cited in: Rick Houser et al. Gaining Power and Control Through Diversity and Group Affiliation, 2004, p. 12
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