Georg Simmel - Domination and Freedom

Topics: Sociology, Georg Simmel, Max Weber Pages: 2 (591 words) Published: January 4, 2011
Georg Simmel, in his work “Domination and Freedom”, identifies domination as a form of interaction. He claims that both the superordinate and the subordinate parties interact intentionally. By this assumption, he concludes that domination never totally kills freedom unless there is a case of physical force executed on subjugated party. The aim of this work is to demonstrate that Simmel’s argument advocating that mentioned interaction is mutually determined is fallacious. Simmel definitely misses a point while constructing his ideas on the nature of domination: the subordinate does not essentially interact intentionally. According to Simmel, authority is established in two different ways. In first, a significant person acquires authority by his excelling decisions and merely subjective personality. Thus, superordinate enjoys being the focus of objectivity in his environment. In the other case, a super-individual power such as state blesses a person with authority. Simmel uses the term generatio aequivoca, meaning spontaneous generation, to refer to the process by which authority descends upon a person. He strongly argues that in both processes there exists a voluntary faith of subjugated party. Subordinate elements are being seen as more or less voluntary participants of a sociological event. He furthermore exemplifies his argument by situation of a speaker or a teacher. A spekaer in front of an audience or a teacher in a class enjoys only a momentary superordination. A person in such a situation sees himself as the only decision maker. However, his actions are widely determined by the mass he claims to subordinate. Simmel quotes a German party leader to empower his argument: “I am their leader, therefore I must follow them.” Simmel admits the existence of a one-sided subordination only in a medieval theory of state in which, ruler’s authority depends on subjects’ mutual contract but not on a contract between ruler and ruled. But he argues that in contemporary...
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