Power, Authority and The State Essay

Power, Authority and The State Essay

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Waking up on the typical Monday morning, I feel groggy and confused. What day is today? I think it over and realize it is the dreaded Monday. Wishing it was still Sunday, I slowly get up and, like a snail, complete my morning routine. On my way to Hunter, everything is the usual–waiting for the suddenly delayed train, rushing through the massive horde of people trying to transfer trains, and finally arriving at school along with hundreds of others. I notice that the train station has set up a table lined with police officers checking passengers’ “suspicious” bags. The person in front of me gets called over by the police and she complies, by allowing the police officer to look through her bag. I keep walking as this is nothing out of the ordinary. During English class, my professor wants us to free-write for ten minutes. Everyone listens and begins frantically writing. I am finally done with all my classes for the day and while on the train, a performer enters with a charismatic air. He presents his speech and begins to dance. He is unlike the usual performers; there is something to him that they didn’t have. Riders alike take out their wallets to praise the performer on a job well done. What a normal day.
Authority is all around us, and it is a part of our daily lives. We listen to those we believe to be in charge of us and never give our obedience a second thought. What is authority? According to Max Weber, a German sociologist, authority is the legitimate power which one person or group holds over another and does not involve force or violence (10). Weber goes on to construct his “Tripartite Model of Authority” in which he narrows down the definition of authority into three sub-categories: legal/rational authority, traditional...


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...eems as though he is comatose. Of course, this is a mere summary of the experiment and the results are just shocking. I encourage reading further about this experiment and you can do so at http://www.physics.utah.edu/~detar/phys4910/readings/ethics/PerilsofObedience.html. It is dangerous to mindlessly comply with the demands of authority, yet it is just as dangerous to consistently defy their orders. It may be thrilling once in a while to be a rebel, but taking on the status of a rebel is both deleterious for you and society. Neither society nor the individual can function without authority, as without it, society will become chaotic. It is at best, to be a temporary rebel.



Works Cited

Parrish, Tina. “Jonestown.” Jonestown. San Diego State University, 14 May 2012. Web.
02 Nov. 2013
Weber, Max. “Power, Authority, and the State.” SagePub.com. Web. 02 Nov. 2013

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