||It has been suggested that this article be merged into (added to) the Hierarchy page. (Discuss)|
A power structure is a system to decide who can decide, and for how long their decision stands, and who can be forced to comply with their decision.
In democracy this is done by educating people in the issues and then voting - in an election to choose leaders, or a referendum to actually choose one option from several. Competing power networks each form a political party and each offers only one leader or one option to the public, to simplify the issues to make decisions possible. After the decision, they typically do not fight it to the point of civil war, but wait for the next election.
In dictatorship this is done by asking one powerful person to make the decision and then agreeing to force everyone to follow it. Any who will not are exiled, imprisoned, or killed, even if the decision is not very important, since the refusal to follow is taken as a challenge to the power structure itself. There is only one power network and all others are forced to become part of it, or fight it. Civil war is much more common in a dictatorship than in a democracy.
A monarchy is a traditional form of dictatorship. Over time the advisors, and eventually the actual decision makers, have become elected in many countries. Also limits are put on the powers of the monarch - to make constitutional monarchy. For more on this and other theories of power, see civics.