Click below for all "Seinfeld Ethnography" posts:
Marine Biologist The Doorman Opposite George Newman's Mail The Bootleg Marriage
Just Dessert Sleep Desk Late Coffee High Stakes Motor Oil Downtown
Code Cracking Nonfat Yogurt Bad Boy It's Not You I Can't Be... Exploding Wallet
Elaine Flies Coach The Close Talker The Alliance Broccoli Coated Culture Dinner Party
Click here for the reference to the "Argonauts" title, below.
|[a] I know your type|
First, watch the clip.
|[b] Pit Bull|
|[c] Now look here|
|[d] Dragnet, 1952|
We will begin by looking at the very, very, little irony anywhere batch of shows. Feel free to peruse them. If you are of a certain age (forty or older), these will bring back a few memories. If you are not of a certain age (say, twenty or younger), you have no idea how serious these matters were on the small screen. And here is the other historiographical lesson that will have to wait for full explanation on another day. Even these shows are "ironic"...because WE HAVE CHANGED. Now that's deep.
|[e] Ironic-ford Files|
Now watch the clip again. Today's lead-up has been less theoretical than historical. If you "get" that, you're starting to "get" this blog. If not, keep reading. The simple way to put it is this—life is complicated. Sometimes you need theoretical firepower, and sometimes you need to understand a bunch of stuff. The latter is true today (until we get to the theory...after the episode). For now, enjoy Mr. Bookman. There is plenty of time here to sip your freeze-dried coffee and enjoy a 1950s-1960s detective...in the 1990s (while you read in the early 2010s). Anachronism (sort of), anyone? That, too, will soon be a Round and Square series, but not quite yet.
Authority and Prestige
Relationships of superordination and subordination play an immense role in social life. It is therefore of the utmost importance for its analysis to clarify the spontaneity and co-efficiency of the subordinate subject and thus to correct their widespread minimization by superficial notions about them. For instance, what is called "authority" presupposes, in a much higher degree than is usually recognized, a freedom on the part of the person subjected to authority. Even where authority seems to "crush" him, it is based not only on coercion or compulsion to yield to it.
The peculiar structure of "authority" is significant for social life in the most varied ways; it shows itself in beginnings as well as in exaggerations, in acute as well as in lasting forms. It seems to come about in two different ways. A person of superior significance or strength may acquire, in his more immediate or remote milieu, an overwhelming weight of opinions, a faith, or a confidence which have the character of objectivity. He thus enjoys a prerogative and an axiomatic trustworthiness in his decisions which excel, at least by a fraction, the value of mere subjective personality, which is always variable, relative, and subject to criticism. By acting "authoritatively," the quantity of his significance is transformed into a new quality; it assumes for his environment the physical state—metaphorically speaking—of objectivity.
But the same result, authority, may be attained in the opposite direction. A super-individual power—state, church, school, family or military organizations—clothes a person with a reputation, a dignity, a power of ultimate decision, which would never flow from his individuality. It is the nature of an authoritative person to make decisions with a certainty of automatic recognition which logically pertain only to impersonal, objective axioms and deductions. In the case under discussion, authority descends upon a person from above, as it were, whereas in the case treated before, it arises from the qualities of the person himself, through a generatio aequivoca ["equivocal birth"]...The believer in authority himself achieves the transformation. He (the subordinate element) participates in a sociological event which requires his spontaneous cooperation. As a matter of fact, the very feeling of the "oppressiveness" of authority suggests that the autonomy of the subordinate part is actually presupposed and never wholly eliminated. 
The Three Pure Types of Legitimate Authority
There are three pure types of legitimate authority. The validity of their claims to legitimacy may be based on:
(2) Traditional grounds—resting on an established belief in the sanctity of immemorial traditions and the legitimacy of status of those exercising under them (traditional authority).
(3) Charismatic grounds—resting on devotion to the specific and exceptional sanctity, heroism or exemplary character of an individual person, and of the normative patterns or order revealed or ordained by him (charismatic authority).
In the case of legal authority, obedience is owed to the legally established impersonal order. It extends to the persons exercising the authority of office under it only by virtue of the formal legality of their commands and only within the scope of authority of the office. In the case of traditional authority, obedience is owed to the person of the chief who occupies the traditionally sanctioned position of authority and who is (within its sphere) bound by tradition. But here the obligation of obedience is not based on the impersonal order, but is a matter of personal loyalty with the area of accustomed obligations. In the case of charismatic authority, it is the charismatically qualified leader as such who is obeyed by virtue of personal trust in him and his revelation, his heroism or his exemplary qualities so far as they fall within the scope of the individual's belief in his charisma.
Charisma, Order, and Status
The first focus of the concept of an institutionalized power system is, analogously, a relational system within which certain categories of commitments and obligations, ascriptive or voluntarily assumed—e.g. by contract—are treated as binding, i.e. under normatively defined conditions their fulfillment may be insisted upon by the appropriate reciprocal agencies. Furthermore, in case of actual or threatened resistance to "compliance," i.e. to fulfillment of such obligations when invoked, they will be "enforced" by the threat or actual imposition of situational negative sanctions, in the former case having the function of deterrence, in the latter of punishment. These are events in the situation of the actor of reference which intentionally alter his situation (or threaten to) to his disadvantage, whatever in specific content these alterations may be.
Power then is generalized capacity to secure the performance of binding obligations by units in a system of collective organization when the obligations are legitimized with reference to their bearing on collective goals and where in case of recalcitrance there is a presumption of enforcement by negative situational sanctions—whatever the actual agency of that enforcement...
Secondly, I have spoken of power as involving legitimation. This is, in the present context, the necessary consequence of conceiving power as "symbolic," which therefore, if it is exchanged for something intrinsically valuable for collective effectiveness, namely compliance with an obligation, leaves the recipient, the performer of the obligation, with "nothing of value." This is to say, that he has "nothing" but a set of expectations, namely that in other contexts and on other occasions he can invoke certain obligations of the part of other units. Legitimation is therefore, in power systems, the factor which is parallel to confidence in mutual acceptability and stability of the monetary unit in monetary systems.
 Georg Simmel, On Individuality and Social Forms (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1971), 98-99.
 Max Weber, "The Basis of Legitimacy," in S.N. Eisenstadt, Political Sociology (New York: Basic Books, 1971), 43.
 Edward Shils, "Charisma, Order, and Status," in S.N. Eisenstadt, Political Sociology (New York: Basic Books, 1971), xxx
Shils, Edward. "Charisma, Order, and Status," in S.N. Eisenstadt, Political Sociology. New York:
Basic Books, 1971.
Simmel, Georg. On Individuality and Social Forms. Chicago: University of Chicago
Weber, Max, "The Basis of Legitimacy," in S.N. Eisenstadt, Political Sociology. New York:
Basic Books, 1971.