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5. A New Definition of Obedience: Language and Rhetoric
About this Lecture
In this module, we explore how a re-interpretation of the Milgram experiments in the context of language and rhetoric can lead us to a new definition of the concept of obedience itself. We begin by thinking about Dr Gibson’s research on the audio recordings of Milgram’s experiments, held at Yale University, and see how this approach can raise important questions around the lack of standardisation within Milgram’s scientific procedure. Next, we consider the suggestion that the participants in Milgram’s studies did not obey the verbal orders they were given per se but were rather already persuaded to go along with the experiment by the overall institutional set-up. This can lead us to a new definition of obedience not as ‘social influence elicited in response to the orders of an authority figure’ but rather as ‘submission to the requirements of an authority figure, regardless of explicit verbal orders’.
Stephen Gibson, Arguing, Obeying and Defying: A Rhetorical Perspective on Stanley Milgram’s Obedience Experiments (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2019)
In this course, Dr Stephen Gibson (York St John University) discusses Stanley Milgram’s obedience experiments. Module one begins by introducing Milgram’s experimental procedure and the findings which resulted from his study. We then move on, in module two, to explore different variations of Milgram’s baseline study and think about the theory of the agentic state which he developed from his work. Module three covers some early criticisms of Milgram’s method and ethics, while module four looks at more recent studies which have sought to re-examine Milgram’s work in the light of archival records held at Yale University. Finally, in module five, we explore how a re-interpretation of the Milgram experiments in the context of language and rhetoric can lead us to a new definition of the concept of obedience itself.
Dr Stephen Gibson has been at York St John University since September 2005, before which he undertook his doctoral research in the Department of Psychology, Lancaster University. His research uses discursive and rhetorical approaches to explore a range of social psychological topics, including citizenship, national identity, dis/obedience and representations of peace and conflict.
Cite this Lecture
Gibson, S. (2019, September 27). Obedience - A New Definition of Obedience: Language and Rhetoric [Video]. MASSOLIT. https://massolit.io/courses/obedience/a-new-definition-of-obedience-language-and-rhetoric
Gibson, Stephen. "Obedience – A New Definition of Obedience: Language and Rhetoric." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 27 Sep 2019, https://massolit.io/courses/obedience/a-new-definition-of-obedience-language-and-rhetoric