Authoritycan be described as the power to make decisions, enforce obedience,and give orders. It also illustrates an organization or individualwho has control in typically an administrative or political capacity.Authority is exercised in many areas such as the government, church,police, parental, and social media among others. As much as peoplehave the propensity of obeying authority, others are fond ofdisobedience. Obedience and disobedience are both involved in powerin equal measures. Disobeying the authority has its repercussions. Onthe other hand, compliance ensures cordial relations among differentpersonalities. This paper will discuss government power. In thegovernment perspective, authority entails a nation`s leadership,political subdivisions, exercising legislative, executive,regulatory, and judicial among other responsibilities about thegovernment. Some degree of obedience and accountability to governmentauthority are vital for the existence of every political society.
Accordingto Milgram experiment, a broad group of people is ready to obey,though unwillingly, even if it may cause severe injuries or distress(Arthur). About government authority, citizens usually follow themwithout necessarily knowing the repercussions. For instance, peopledo not have the knowledge of the entire laws, yet they are constantlyin-line with them. They obey without knowledge of the same. Sometimesindividuals are guided by the morals that were instilled duringupbringing. In appreciating the moral aspects, they end up obeyingthe government authority. In other words, under the instructions fromauthority, people tend to respond with obedience, despite theirdiscomfort about the actions. Government orders can be implicit orexplicit. A good example can be drawn from the Nazi leaders. Thegroup did not always offer precise instructions to the subordinates,hence the dynamism of Nazi movement (Morselli).As elaborated by Reich (1933), social psychology studies onobedience, see it as a threat to humans (Morselli). Attention hasprimarily been addressed to the causes of disentanglement that areratified to evade feelings of responsibility for the activities onemay commit in reply to the demands of authority. Though the doublefeatures of obedience i.e. destructive and constructive has beenmanifested since the ancient studies on the subject, the elitereading of a link between obedience and misconducts of obedience hascreated an inaccurate epistemological postulation over the years. Asa matter of fact, psychology risks legitimizing indiscriminatingobedience. Framing the government authority relation only within itsunwanted parts offers a limited clarification of the phenomenon. Itis also valuable to realize that social psychology yieldsjustifications for social events that are usually adopted by severalother social fields. In that respect, social psychology is supposedto accept the duty for the details that it produces. Severalphilological studies use the perception of obedience solely in itsnegative implication, predominantly mentioning the yields of theMilgram`s studies (Morselli).
Accordingto Milgram, the socialization procedures of compliance are extremelysigniﬁcant. Since childhood, people have been accustomed to thevalue of obedience, even if what follows in its name can sometimes behostile. They have confidence in the legality of the authorities,even if manipulation of this trust might occasionally occur(Zamperini). The same obedience gained in childhood is manifested inthe government – citizen relationships. State authority is foundedon social norms and does not involve a top-down necessity procedure,where the citizens are impassively inﬂuenced by the leader. Statepower utilizes different concepts to influence a particular behavior.Firstly, regulations describing obedience and disobedience areoutlined and a technique of sanctions established. Secondly, eachcitizen`s function is controlled through symbolic systems. Thenfinally, group values indicating the government`s demands are listed.Consequently, citizens are indebted to behave by the requirements atdifferent capacities. Both rule and role-oriented residents viewobedience as abiding by the laws and the authority`s requirementsregardless of their validity. Instead, value-oriented people aredevoted to the government since they share the ideals on which theytrust the power to be created. They obey the government`s stands, butonly adhere to the rules that are in protection with what they viewas the culture`s core values. In other words, they oppose regulationsthat infringe these values. Such citizens are more inclined to abidewith the government`s ideologies only if they are in-line withsocietal values. Constructive obedience means, defying anillegitimate demand. Individuals disobey the government`s requestsand obey shared values. In that regard, obedience and disobedienceare not dissimilar to each other but exist concurrently and refer todiverse aspects of the government relationship. Destructive obedienceis typically viewed as a shift of duty from the individual to theauthority/government. The person does not assess the validity of theauthority`s demand since he/she places his/her faith in theauthority`s correctness.
Actsof defiance play an immense function in preventing misconducts ofobedience. Over the years, some leaders have shown acts of civildisobedience with the aim of achieving change in the society. A goodexample can be drawn from Nelson Mandela. For more than 20 years, heled the anti-apartheid movement conducting campaigns of peaceful,non-violent defiance against the South African government and itsracist rules. By tirelessly defying the government’s racistpolicies, Mandela was able to dismantle the country’s apartheidsystem. He was later inaugurated as the first black president inSouth Africa. Sometimes it is appropriate to reinforce norms thatpropose disobedience when persons deal with rules that they think tobe dishonest, chiefly on the grounds of ethical judgment. Aschconformity experiments delve that groups with limited pressure toconform to certain aspects are less likely to error. In that respect,disobedience to the government upholds some of the societal values(Asch). Acts of government defiance usually lead to somerepercussions. For instance, Nelson Mandela was sentenced to lifeincarceration of which he served 27 years. Mohamed Ali is anotherindividual who faced the consequences of defying the military draft.As required by law, he was supposed to join the military to fight theVietnamese. However, his values could not conform to the laws. In hissentiments “why would we move all the way from America to fightinnocent individuals who have never bothered us.” His principle wasnon-aggression, and he was ready to stand by it. The act of defiancelanded him in jail as he was also stripped of his boxing title.However, his principle can be vindicated as many people now think thewar was a mistake.
Defianceto the government among other authoritative institutions does notsymbolize erroneous values. As a matter of fact, disobedience canchampion a social change as long as the values are legitimate. Manyactivists boldly defy the government to bring about change in thesociety. Defiance against corruption, racism, and wars are some ofthe social ills that stimulate activists to indulge in the same.
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Asch,S.E. "Studies in the principles of judgments and attitudes: II.Determination of judgments by the group and by ego-standards."Journalof Social Psychology(1940): 433-465. Document.
Morselli,Stefano Passini, and David. "Authority relationships betweenobedience and disobedience." Theobedience-disobedience dynamic and the role of responsibility(2008): 96-106. Document.
Zamperini,Piero Bocchiaro, and Adriano. "Conformity, Obedience,Disobedience: The Power of the Situation." Conformity,Obedience, Disobedience: The Power of the Situation(2009): 275-295. Document.