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Related: authority - submission

Contrast with: rebellion - resistance


Obedience is the willingness to follow the will of others.

Obedience is often associated with social dominance and submission.

Some animals can easily be trained to be obedient by employing operant conditioning that places the human being in the role of a dominant animal. Other animals do not respond well to such training. Obedience schools exist to condition dogs into obeying the orders of human owners.

Human beings have been shown to be surprisingly obedient in the presence of perceived legitimate authority figures, as demonstrated by the Milgram experiment in the 1960s. Milgram carried out his experiments to discover how the Nazis had managed to get ordinary people to take part in the mass murder of the Holocaust. The result of the experiment showed that compliance to authority was the norm, not the exception. A similar effect was found in the Stanford prison experiment.

Extensive training is given in armies to make soldiers capable of obeying orders in situations where an untrained person would not be willing to follow orders. Soldiers are ordered to do seemingly trivial things like picking the sergeant's hat off the floor, march in just the right position, or align themselves directly, and how demanding the orders are is worked up from there, to the point where when the general tells his soldiers to place themselves into the fray in the midst of gunfire, they will give by this time a knee-jerk obedient response.

Obedience can also include:

Formerly obedience was included along with honor and love as part of a conventional bride's wedding oath (but not the bridegroom's). This came under attack with the women's suffrage and feminist movements. Today its inclusion in the wedding vow has fallen out of favor. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Obedience [May 2005]

The Politics of Obedience : The Discourse of Voluntary Servitude (1549/1576) - Etienne de la Boétie

The Politics of Obedience : The Discourse of Voluntary Servitude (1549/1576) - Etienne de la Boétie [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

Étienne de La Boétie (Sarlat, November 1st, 1530 - Germignan, August 18, 1563) was a French judge and writer, friend of Montaigne, author of the Discourse of Voluntary Servitude (Discours de la servitude volontaire).

He served with Montaigne in the Bordeaux parlement and is immortalized in Montaigne’s essay on friendship. La Boétie’s writings include a few sonnets, translations from the classics, and an essay attacking absolute monarchy and tyranny in general, Discours de la servitude volontaire, in which he stated that tyrants have power because the people give it to them. Liberty has been abandoned once by society, which afterward stay corrupted and prefers the slavery of the courtisan to the freedom of one who refuses to dominate as he refuses to obey. Thus, La Boétie linked together obedience and domination, a relationship which would be later theorized by anarchist thinkers such as Proudhon. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/%C3%89tienne_de_la_Bo%C3%A9tie [Mar 2006]

See also: French literature - 1500s - anarchism - obedience - authority - politics

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