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EXPLORING POWER: C.J.CREGG ON THE WEST WING   ABOUT THE WEST WING…

EXPLORING POWER: C.J.CREGG ON THE WEST WING

 

ABOUT THE WEST WING

The West Wing (1999 – 2006) was a popular American television drama that followed White House Senior Staff in a fictional American presidential administration. 

C.J. Cregg, played by actor Allison Janney, was the White House Press Secretary for the first 5.5 seasons of the show. The role of Press Secretary is not a very “powerful” one as the key objective of this role is to keep the press corps (reporters for various news outlets) advised on Presidential activities and policies. Typically, the Press Secretary is “client-facing” rather than involved in actual policy decisions or initiatives. 

For the last 1.5 seasons, C.J. was promoted to the role of Chief of Staff, reporting directly and ONLY to the President, Josiah (Jed) Bartlet.  This means that C.J.’s former friends, colleagues and boss report to her. (See org chart below.)

 

Organizational Chart: Senior Staff of The West Wing, Seasons 1 – 5.5.

THE TEXTBOOK’S VIEW OF POWER

In your text, Chapter 9, sources of power and influence are defined and discussed. In particular, the following are listed as potential sources of power within an organization:

  • Position power (authority)
  • Control of rewards
  • Coercive power
  • Information and expertise
  • Reputation
  • Personal power, as exerted using:
  • Reciprocation
  • Commitment and consistency
  • Social proof
  • Liking
  • Authority
  • Scarcity
  • Alliances and networks
  • Access and control of the agenda

VIDEO CLIPS FROM THE WEST WING

Language Warning: Some of the following clips contain strong language that some may find offensive.

Context: This 14 minute summary follows the character of C.J. Cregg from her start as Press Secretary to her next role as Chief of Staff. There are many references in this video to C.J.’s relationship to power. Can you spot them?

The remaining clips range from 30 seconds to 4.5 minutes in length. Each one showcases at least one, often more, examples of C.J. either exerting some kind of power or having power exerted on her. Keep the terms you have learned from the text in the front of your mind. Can you identify the power situations?

Clip #1: C.J. deals with an underqualified reporter.

Clip #2: C.J. confronts Josh, a more senior staffer.

Clip #3: C.J. confronts the President.

Clip #4: C.J. confronts the Military.

Clip #5: C.J. experiences a momentary loss of power.

YOUR TASKS

  1. The West Wing Exploration
    • View the video clips provided.
    • Read the section of the text that defines and discusses the terms noted above.
    • Go to the discussion area provided. (Course Tools >> Discussions.)
    • You may either:
      • Start a discussion on a video clip or scene.
      • Reply to, or continue, a discussion already in progress.
    • Discuss at least three different video clips or scenes in detail. In discussion,  must use at least four of the terms above – and use them correctly.
    • You may focus on C.J. or any other character you wish.
  2. Gender And Power
  • Proceed to the second discussion area: Gender And Power.
  • Using at least three of the terms provided above, and using them correctly, provide your thoughts and opinions on the relationship between gender and organizational power. You may reference The West Wing clips if you wish or you may provide your own examples. Do not simply give opinions – provide either a video clip or a written, published article, and comment on it.

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