Displeasing Authority

In the average everyday, run-ins with authority are about as commonplace as the roadside scuffle in an overpopulated metropolis. That doesn’t leave much to be said about authority, aside of some curious reflections which have to do with the automatic assumption of an authoritarian position and how authority is implicit in almost all social relationships.

I have had to study sociology for the first time in the last week or so. What I like about sociology is the fact that it readily admits a value to abstraction. Generalisation is a lost art, really. In all the hullaballoo about how-much and who– its worth asking how and why. However I shall not digress further.

A heterogeneous group of people could be a blend of dominant sub-sets of smaller groups or a truly heterogeneous blend with a collective that shares almost nothing in common amongst its individual members. Consider the backgrounds: 1) Rural Vs Urban, 2) Inarticulate Vs Erudite 3)Uni disciplined Vs Multi-Perspective 3) Male Vs Female. I’m not drawing conclusions or making value judgements — just drawing out the differences.

In working/sudying with and in such a collective two things can happen. Ideally a colourful sharing of varied experience and enrichment for all, or, more likely a really bad case of xenophobia. The question is, who or what kind of person/people assume authority in such circumstances? Age, work experience, a boisterous mannerism and so on. Then there are gender comfort zones as well.

The problem with this situation is that much of this authority is undeserved and doesn’t do the collective a lot of good. Assuming that someone who is articulate is also good at research is a bad assumption. Similarly assuming that age makes someone a natural leader is also a bad assumption. I am not against all authority, but I am against undeserved authority. For my part, it is a warm illusion of superiority but an illusion nevertheless.