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  1. May 17, 2005 #1
    ok this is my first time posting and its a little lame but here goes

    i think that authority figures are only as powerful as their underlings are obediant

    any thoughts
     
  2. jcsd
  3. May 18, 2005 #2
    You want me to put on the sheep suit? Yes master. :biggrin:

    I think that the level of authority can be raised by strong leadership traits, or lowered by weak leadership traits. As an example, a good public speaker can expand his following by swaying people to his or her way of thinking, or lose followers by saying something disagreeable
     
  4. May 18, 2005 #3

    dextercioby

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    I thought you've just lost your virginity.:tongue2: First timer :biggrin:

    Welcome to PF !.May your visit be as least painful as possible :tongue2:

    Daniel.
     
  5. May 18, 2005 #4

    arildno

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    A very good question, infinitesmallness (and NO, I do not regard your username as in any manner relevant to the irrelevant topic Daniel brought up).

    Welcome to PF!
     
  6. May 18, 2005 #5

    DaveC426913

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    I would argue that authority figures are as powerful as their ability to enforce their authority. If he has a gun (or your paycheque), most people are going to be pretty obedient.
     
  7. May 18, 2005 #6

    Astronuc

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    That is a reasonable assessment in many, if not most, cases.

    Being of a recalcitrant nature, I support good authority/leadership, i.e. leadership with integrity, and I challenge bad authority (I had to depose a corporate CEO/President once).
     
  8. May 18, 2005 #7
    Yes, I agree.....if the underlings are not obedient of their masters, how are the masters able to control them?

    Why are you asking this anyway? Just wondering.... :smile:
     
  9. May 18, 2005 #8

    Phobos

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    I agree there is a lot of truth in what you say, infinitesmallness, but it's not so cut and dry. Are you more obedient to the President of the U.S. or to your local policeman? I.E., you have to deal with local authorities directly whereas you may never even meet the President. And yet which has more political power in the world? And then there's the issue of the policeman's society-authorized use of force to ensure their power over non-obedient individuals. Etc.
     
  10. May 18, 2005 #9

    arildno

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    At that moment yes, but if he hasn't any followers to back up his one time shot of displaying "authority", you might get even with him later on.

    In the case of the paycheck example, the set of followers is practically the rest of society, which will incur heavy sanctions on an employee who forcibly tries to get what he might think he's due in contrast to what the employer chooses to pay him.
     
  11. May 18, 2005 #10
    According to Machiavelli, it's the other way around.
     
  12. May 18, 2005 #11

    I THOUGHT SO TOO! jeeze... how horribly dissapointing when i actually read the thread... i mean, not that its a bad thread... but you know... thought maybe we'd have some interesting threads on pf again... like old times...

    my vote is gonna be: i think authority is just a facade... the best anyone can do is to manipulate the semblence of authority... and some people are silly enough to accept that.
     
  13. May 18, 2005 #12
    Depends on how you view authority I think

    If the followers are unwilling then the power of authority is determined on how well they can enforce their will. That usually means preventing any organization of their underlings and having them police themselves. A few privileged people to give them a sense of superiority and keep them loyal to you. This is control through fear. This would make the underlings only as obediant as the authority is powerful.

    There is also leadership through loyalty. This is much more difficult. You can make all the people afraid all of the time, but you can never make all the people loyal all of the time. This works best when things are going well and people are allowed to express their ideas and have some measure of individuality. This type of leader must inspire people to remain in authority. It can be just as effective as the above method. It requires that the leader have a loyalty to those that serve him.

    I think a combination of the two is the best method. It depends on the morale of the underlings. If they are loyal then treat them well. If they become disobedient when given some slack then tighten the rope and grant them less benefits until they show they can behave appropriately. If they are mutinous then put fear into them. Training a person is not much different than training an animal.
     
  14. May 21, 2005 #13
    what

    If the followers are unwilling then the power of authority is determined on how well they can enforce their will.

    But even those who enforce their will need underlings to enforce it
     
  15. May 25, 2005 #14

    Any authority figure will always be able to find a number of people to enforce their will and remain loyal. Think of it as a pyramid with he leader at the top and directly below a small group which is given status and power in exchange for loyalty. As Huck said: "A few privileged people to give them a sense of superiority and keep them loyal to you." The function of this goup is to protect the leader, police the lower levels of the 'pyramid' and respond to any coup attempts. (For example, Saddam had the Special Republican Guard, Elite Repubican Guard and the regular military. Any 'civilians' at the bottom of the pyramid, where loyalty means very little, have little chance of overthrowing the 'power'.
    Huck also mentioned preventing organization. Underlings in the upper levels are closely watched. In such a system you never know who you can trust. It isn't uncommon to be approached by another individual about involvement in a coup and it will simply be an operation to weed out potential threats to the power. Regimes that control through fear are heavily involved in spying on the general population and don't hesitate to hold political prisoners or simply eliminate people upon suspicion. This is something to be taken very seriously if it begins to infest a 'free' country.
     
    Last edited: May 25, 2005
  16. May 25, 2005 #15

    russ_watters

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    The term "authority figure" is a little ill-defined.

    If you're talking about leadership, leadership is defined by (measured wrt) the leader, not the followers. You measure leaders against each other based on how well they are able to lead similar groups of people. If one leader has an easy group to lead and another has a tough group to lead, you still measure relative success. But even situations where you have a tough group to lead, the outcome depends far more on the skills of the leader than the disposition of the followers.

    If you mean just plain obedience at all costs, that doesn't take much skill to achieve and doesn't depend much on the leader or the followers. Authority can very easily be accomplished at the point of a gun (or threat of legal action): Virtually anyone can be an authority figure if they have a gun and virtually everyone will obey their commands.
    You'd be surprised. Very, very few people are completely un-leadable (yes, I made that word up). Military training is a good example.
     
  17. May 25, 2005 #16

    Moonbear

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    My minions would never question my authority! [​IMG]

    Seriously though, the measure of a good leader is someone who can rally even the most incalcitrant to follow willingly. But, a good leader also knows that a single approach does not work with everyone, and trying to force people to follow with heavy hand will often meet more resistance than gentle persuasion will. Being clear and consistent in instructions, expectations, and consequences for doing or not doing as requested also goes a long way.
     
  18. May 26, 2005 #17

    arildno

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    Hey, Moonbear!
    Why is that slurp spider hiding behind that blue face??
     
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