Authority is the ability of a person or an organization to conduct a certain lifestyle for another person or a group. Authority is known as one of the basis of society and stands against cooperation. Adopting lifestyle patterns as a result of authority is called obedience and authority as a concept includes most leadership cases.
Although authority is usually described as human there's also frequent mention of divine authority.
Authority exists by virtue of a certain social power. This power might be materialistic (such as a threat to harm someone) or fictitious (such as belief in a certain person's power). The power exists because of the possible use of sanction : An action who harms a person who's not obeying the authority or threatening it in order to conduct a social power.
Authority may exists in a direct way by virtue of an actual power (such as a threat of imprisonment), which is called "forcing", or by legitimization that the subject gives to the authority (such as recognition of aristocratic authority). In most cases both types exist.
Only a few authorities are based on physical power, most of them are based on an organizational authority system. In this way, the authoritys ability to act depends on her existence.
For example: the authority of a state leader takes part when there's some sort of a police that punishes individuals that do not obey him. The policeman are subordinated to the leader and his rules because they are also under the police threat. If all citizens of the state choose to deny the leader and his rules, the authority will be lost, but the very fact that the authority semi-exists allowes it to be full.
Theoretically, violation of the authority drags with it a sanction that's given by the authority owner. The severity of the sanction and the threat it presents are based on the particular social situation, on the balance of power, on the local norms and so on.