[jahsonic.com] - [Next >>]


Related: author - hegemony - obedience - power

Experiments illustrating the nature of authority: Milgram experiment - Stanford prison experiment

Authority (Sociology)

In sociology, authority comprises a particular type of power. The dominant usage comes from functionalism and follows Weber in defining authority as power which is recognised as legitimate and justified by both the powerful and the powerless.

Authority (person)

Someone recognised as an authority on a particular subject apparently knows a great deal about that particular subject.

The authoritarian personality

A new feature of American life in the post--World War II era, which has not been much noted by historians, was the great influence wielded, for the first time, by social scientists. Several classic studies, ranging from Gunnar Myrdal's An American Dilemma to the Kinsey Reports, had great impact on American ideas. Widely taken as gospel, some had a direct influence on government policies.1 Some of these works, notably Myrdal's, were magnificent; others were far less impressive.
       One of the most influential but controversial of these classics was The Authoritarian Personality. Published in 1950, it was written by Theodor Adorno, Else Frenkel-Brunswick, Daniel Levinson, and R. Nevitt Sanford as part of a joint undertaking of the Berkeley Public Opinion Study and the Institute of Social Research, also known as the Frankfurt School. The latter organization, formed in Germany during the Weimar era, was leftist in orientation. Its leading members, including Adorno, aimed at understanding man and society by mixing a nonorthodox form of Marxism with psychoanalytic theory. The Authoritarian Personality was part of a series called Studies in Prejudice, sponsored by the American Jewish Committee as part of an effort to produce basic research on religious and racial prejudice, especially, but not only, anti-Semitism. That series included Bruno Bettelheim and Morris Janowitz's Dynamics of Prejudice, which came to rather different, and in some ways more convincing, conclusions.
       The Authoritarian Personality examined the connection between deep-rooted personality traits and prejudice. Basing their work on insights that Adorno and his associates, especially Erich Fromm, had developed before fleeing Germany, the authors analyzed the formation of the "potentially fascistic individual" or, as they usually called it, the "authoritarian personality." That they identified authoritarianism and anti-Semitism so closely with the beaten menace of fascism is an indication of the extent to which, even then, their work was dated.
       Nevertheless, The Authoritarian Personality had a major impact in the academic world and ultimately the opinion-forming media. It identified some traditional social values with an undesirable, even proto-fascist, personality structure; the principal locus for the development of ethnocentrism and anti-Semitism, this personality type was common under the conditions of twentieth-century capitalism.2 The book's concepts became widespread and its methods and aims were widely copied, inspiring many similar studies.
       THE AUTHORITARIAN PERSONALITY --http://www.worldandi.com/specialreport/2002/December/Sa22748.htm

Anti-authoritarianism in German Expressionism

Screenwriters Carl Mayer and Hans Janowitz saw a Germany being destroyed by Prussian authoritarianism, the general populace being moulded into a collection of mindless conformists, and sought to sound a warning through the medium of film (Caligari, in the figure of the mad doctor compelling the unsophisticated Cesare to do his bidding, predicted the rise of Hitler). But this theme was lost on most, who instead marvelled at the brilliantly-conceived sets, all odd angles and painted shadows, created by artists Walter Reiman, Walter Rohrig, and Hermann Warm, who spearheaded the rise of German Expressionism in the years after World War One. Conrad Veidt, who would later perform brilliantly in such film classics as The Thief of Bagdad and Casablanca, mesmerised audiences with his portrayal of Cesare, the somnambulist who is hypnotised by Caligari (a superb Werner Krauss) into committing murder, until he rebels against his master when he falls for one of his intended victims. The scene where he carries Lil Dagover through some wildly surrealistic sets has been copied ever since (most notably in Frankenstein). Even if the film is framed by scenes that suggest the story comes from the infected imagination of an asylum patient, thus downplaying the anti-authoritarian stance of the film (with Caligari representing the Prussian rulers), the final close-up of Caligari's demonic smile is enough to prove that the film's purpose is by way of a wake-up call for the masses. This anti-authoritarian stance was to crop up in Hollywood films during the Depression era, most notably in King Kong (1933). --Noel O'Shea

your Amazon recommendations - Jahsonic - early adopter products

Managed Hosting by NG Communications