I was thinking about how population influences the power dynamics in a polity. The community that has the majority has more say in political discourse. Can we use the term "Numerical power" to describe the power of such a community? Would it be sociologically correct to say so?

  • Democracy somethign something
    – Babu
    May 21, 2023 at 15:15
  • 1
    Tyranny of the majority incorporates the ancient and well-known concept that the numerical majority can impose its will on the numerical minority in a democracy that makes political decisions purely on the numerical tally of one person one vote. May 21, 2023 at 17:29
  • @SystemTheory Tyranny of the majority neglects the fact that it's not easy to get a majority and that even in that case it wouldn't by tyranny as it had a democratic mandate and thus would rely on a majority rather than being able to decide on a whim. It's a scarecrow of people in favor of a tyranny.
    – haxor789
    Sep 18, 2023 at 14:31
  • @haxor Despite objections the concept called tyranny of the majority is ancient and well known. Strength in numbers is another well-known phrase. Many people think democratic socialism is a viable political system. But even democratic socialism is a system in which the majority socialist is punching down on the minority individual who hates the rules imposed by the majority. Capitalism in which the Oligarchs or authoritarian party captures the government is tyranny of the minority under the ruse of democratic republic. Any moralistic regime rationalizes its misuse of the police force. Sep 18, 2023 at 18:50

3 Answers 3


It is a form of speech that is used, but it's rare, and a bit awkward.

You have to make a case for why greater numbers mean greater power. For instance, pensioners are very likely to vote, under 25 year olds are not, so in elections numbers do not equate to political influence.

National or regional majorities, might usually fill the role, relating to voting potential. Or cohesive power block, referring to groups with very similar politics, or highly motivated by specific issues.


Can we use the term "Numerical power" to describe the power of such a community? Would it be sociologically correct to say so?

You could introduce that expression in a sociological study and explain what you mean it to say: anyway, a sociological investigation would be interested in how that mechanism or dynamic has a sociologically relevant impact, and I am not really seeing one (though, I am not properly a sociologist), not in so far as politics (as e.g. in considerations on the "tyranny of the majority") is not the same thing as sociology, although of course there is a mutual influence of factors.


The broadest term for political power of one polity or faction over another is called hegemony in political science which is one of the fields of sociological study. From WP:

In Ancient Greece (ca. 8th BC – AD 6th c.), hegemony denoted the politico-military dominance of the hegemon city-state over other city-states.4 In the 19th century, hegemony denoted the "social or cultural predominance or ascendancy; predominance by one group within a society or milieu" and "a group or regime which exerts undue influence within a society".

This is the term political scientists tend to use. Noam Chomsky wrote a political book called Hegemony or Survival (GB). It is certainly a word which seems in ascendancy. Max Weber would be a good philosopher to study given his help in founding the field of sociology.

  • Hegemony does not depend on numerosity... May 15 at 15:51
  • @JulioDiEgidio Oh? Name me a small country that has some form of hegemony where the hegemonist doesn't have superior numbers.
    – J D
    May 15 at 16:24
  • I am reading the OP as talking about how in (modern, not classic!) democracy "the majority wins", and eventually the problem of the "tyranny of the majority". Hegemony is a different issue and a different problem: one of influence over others, not of numerosity among peers and the intrinsic consequences of certain political structures... May 15 at 21:00

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