Powerlessness is the condition of individuals or groups unable to determine or influence their own destiny. Though intuitively clear, the notion has no straightforward definition and is rarely used as such. At the most basic level, it is often interpreted as a lack or deprivation of power, a more common but no less ambiguous concept. Powerlessness is also often associated or conflated with notions such as alienation, domination, anomie, and political or social exclusion. Instead of adjudicating between all approaches, this entry offers an overview of the underlying lines of dissent in the conceptualization of powerlessness. It then investigates a few approaches at the crossroad of psychology, social, and political sciences that each focuses on powerlessness in direct or indirect ways.

A Multifaceted Concept

First, powerlessness can ...

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