Category Archives: Obedience


malaika tucker-working on a assembly line (1)Alienation is defined by Jon Witt as a “loss of control over our creative human capacity to produce separation from the products we make, and isolation from our fellow producers.”  Karl Marx’s theory of alienation consists of four parts. The first is alienation from the product. This means, what you produce does not belong to you. A good example of this is working on an assembly line at a car factory. You have no control over the design and production protocol. The second is alienation from other people. This can mean you don’t get to spend time with people you enjoy being with because of your job or you chose not to be around or associate with others for your own personal reasons. People that fit in this category could also have a situation or job where they feel like they’re part of a secondary group and/or out-group. For example, car salesmen have commission-based jobs.  The more cars they sell, the more money they make.  Competition can develop between coworkers who are trying to beat one another out of a sale, causing coworkers to be distant. The third is alienation from work. This means your job becomes monotonous or automatic. malaika tucker-working on a fast food lineYour mind doesn’t even have to be there. An example of this would be making food at a fast food restaurant; you’ve memorized what ingredients go in which food item so well that your hands are just moving without you actually thinking about it.  Social control could be a reason why people end up in this category.  After trying to be a perfect worker and show obedience to your boss and also not draw any attention to yourself, before you know it, everything’s habitual. The fourth is alienation of the worker from himself as a producer from his/her species essence. This means humans are naturally inclined to work as long as this job engages their human spirit. An example of this would be an actor and actress. They don’t get to add their own spin to their lines, they have to say what’s written in the script; therefore this job does not engage their human spirit.



Marx’s Theory Of Alienation. Wikipedia, 20 February. 2013. Web.

Witt, Jonathan. Soc. New York: McGraw, 2012. 115. Print.


We act a certain way based on where we are and who we are with. We categorize our attire with words like “formal” and “casual”. We adjust to any situation we are in. We obey many unspoken rules because we cannot imagine how others would react if we did not. What pressure causes people to confine themselves within the walls of “acceptable” social behavior?


The answer is conformity, which is a form of social control. It is the act of going along with peers—individuals of our own status who have no special right to direct our behavior. Included in this post is the theme music and video clip for a show called “Weeds,” and it gives a great visual representation of conformity in a suburban community. Conformity is parallel to obedience. To conform is such a natural behavior that we do not realize that we conform to societal standards every day. We do, however, acknowledge and enforce conformity when a member of society is being deviant (that describes a term called “negative sanctioning”). Deviance is parallel to disobedience. Essentially, that makes deviance the opposite of conformity. People are either rewarded or punished based on whether they conform to the behavior of their society. So, here is a question: If uniqueness is valued in some cultures, why are people punished for not conforming?


Conformity can be both good and bad. On the positive side, conformity maintains order. Society would be a complete mess if there was no form of social control. People would not be able to learn to function if their society had no guidelines. On the negative side, conformity suppresses the “black sheep” of society. Those who choose not to conform are negatively sanctioned and are pressured to behave. There are those who like to fit in and there are those who like to stand out. Luckily, there will always be deviant people, because without them, the accepted behaviors of societies would never be reinforced and conformity would be lost.

Works Cited

Weeds Theme Song. N.d. YouTube. YouTube, 05 May 2007. Web. 25 Feb. 2013. <;.


Obedience is defined as “a compliance with higher authorities in a hierarchical structure” (Witt 131). Obedience is a baffling idea in which we are easily controlled and easily manipulated by an authority figure. Stanley Milgram conducted an experiment about obedience in the 1970’s. In this experiment he sent out a newspaper ad at Yale University and accepted a variety of participants of many occupations. The purpose of Milgram’s experiment was to test how easily people would conform to the instructions of an authority figure. However, Milgram disguised his experiment. He told participants that it was a test to see how effective punishment while learning would be. He had the participants sit in a room with a board that when they would flip a switch it would administer the level of electrical shock they were told to give to the actor in the other room. Although they could not see the actor who was pretending to be shocked, they could hear him scream or react to the shock. In many cases people would listen to the authority figure in the room with the subject and would keep administering the shocks even at lethal levels that could “kill” the actor whom was allegedly receiving the shock. However, sometimes the authority figure did not even need to be present to influence the subject.


One of the most perplexing social norms that we have is the idea of road laws. Although they may seem simple on the surface, it seems almost ironic that something as complex as the human mind can be controlled by something as simple as two solid lines on a road signifying that one person may not pass another person while driving on the same side of the road. The main underlying factors that cause people to not deviate from these simple traffic laws is the fact that they are all kept in line by fear. Although many of these traffic laws are made to keep people out of harm’s way, many people do not have much regard for their own safety. This is why it is necessary to have traffic police. They are the ones who enforce the necessary repercussions for when people deviate from traffic laws. Without police monitoring the streets and imposing necessary fear upon drivers, the drivers would have no reason to obey an inanimate object telling them to keep their speed below fifty five miles per hour. In some cases large groups of people may stray away from their obedience, ultimately overriding the law and creating a new social norm.


The thing about some laws or social norms is that people are not always obedient to them and if this happens on a very large scale sometimes anomie takes place. When this happens it is not uncommon for what was considered unlawful or deviant to become somewhat a social norm or at least become more accepted. This type of behavior can vary from different types of societies. An example of this would be underage drinking. Although it is against the law for minors to consume alcohol, in the media and amongst some parents it has become much more accepted. This is because as a society we tend to have the idea that “they are going to do it anyway so what is the point of attempting to stop them”. It is this type of ideal that in many cases can cause anomie. Another example of this would be the spread of American ideals to countries such as China. When my father went to China for business he brought back pictures that showed clear signs of this expansion (this social revolution can be compared to America’s flappers in the 1920’s). Many of the youth were wearing shirts that featured American rock groups. Although China is still considered to be communist, they have made little attempt to change the views of the youth thus causing anomie. The idea of obedience is drilled into our heads from a very early age causing our society to work in an uniform fashion with little turbulence.


Works Cited

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Witt, Jon. SOC 2012. Ed. Gina Boedeker. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2011. 131. Print.