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Authority Construction and Corrosion cover
  • ISBN: 9780226481975
  • ISBN10: 0226481972

Authority Construction and Corrosion

by Bruce Lincoln

  • List Price: $35.00
  • Binding: Hardcover
  • Publisher: Univ of Chicago Pr
  • Publish date: 12/01/1994
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Description
What is authority? How is it constituted? How ought one understand the subtle (and sometimes not-so-subtle) relations between authority and coercion? Between authorized and subversive speech? In this fascinating and intricate analysis, Bruce Lincoln argues that authority is not an entity but an effect. More precisely, it is an effect that depends for its power on the combination of the right speaker, the right speech, the right staging and props, the right time and place, and an audience historically and culturally conditioned to judge what is right in all these instances and to respond with trust, respect, and even reverence. Employing examples drawn from classical antiquity, medieval Scandinavian law, Cold War scholarship, and American presidential politics, Lincoln offers a telling analysis of the performance of authority, and subversions of it, from ancient times to the present. Using a small set of case studies that highlight critical moments in the construction of authority, he goes on to offer a general examination of "corrosive" discourses such as gossip, rumor, and curses; the problematic situation of women, who often are barred from the authorizing sphere; the changing role of religion in the construction of authority; the question of whether authority in the modern and postmodern world differs from its pre-modern counterpart; and a critique of Hannah Arendt's claims that authority has disappeared from political life in the modern world. Analyzing the 1992 incident in which antinuclear activist Rick Springer disrupted a Las Vegas speech given by former president Ronald Reagan, Lincoln questions Arendt's claims. He does not find a diminution of authority or a fundamental changein the conditions that produce it. Rather, Lincoln finds modern authority splintered, expanded, and, in fact, multiplied as the mechanisms for its construction become more complex - and more expensive. A lively, wide-ranging exploration of the concept of authority, this book will interest anyone concerned with the production and contestation of authority in the modern world.
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