Why do we obey? The politics of obedience

Course Dates: 24/06/19 - 29/07/19
Time: 18:00 - 19:30
Location: KS - Keeley Street
Tutor: Christian Michel

We groan against bosses, berate politicians, demonstrate against most aspects of the social system, and then

humbly take our orders from above. Is obedience imprinted in our genes? How submissive must people be for society to function? In this short course we will discuss the politics of obedience – drawing on psychology, anthropology, history, and political philosophy. Tutor: Christian Michel.


What is the course about?

In all social groups, activities need to be coordinated, a consequence of the division of labour, and certain prohibitions are upheld (almost universally: Do not kill innocent people, do not take their stuff). We will discuss how much obedience is required to maintain a functioning society, and how much is a consequence of domination, exploitation, discriminations and multiple forms of violence, and how much acceptance human beings tolerate, and why. ¿.

What will we cover?

We will discuss the politics of obedience
- drawing on psychology, with practitioners like Erich Fromm and Stanley Milgram;
- on anthropology, with Pierre Clastres, who studied stateless and classless societies;
- on political philosophy, starting with Etienne de La Boétie’s dazzling “Discourse on Voluntary Servitude”, written when he was 19, before he became Montaigne’s closest friend.

What will I achieve?
By the end of this course you should be able to...

Based on what has been covered, students will question how liberating are the works of major contemporary thinkers, from Robert Nozick to Noam Chomsky.
Students will also consider and ask radical questions about political systems (starting with “Should there be one?”) And then decide for themselves which one, if any, they want to support.

What level is the course and do I need any particular skills?

This is an `introductory` course and does not assume any previous study or reading. As with most of City Lit’s history and current affairs courses, intellectual curiosity and an open mind are more important than specific previous knowledge.

How will I be taught, and will there be any work outside the class?

Tutor presentations with visuals (to be emailed to students after each lesson), lively class discussions, and preparatory readings of short texts.

Are there any other costs? Is there anything I need to bring?

No additional costs. It is recommended that you bring a pen and paper, in case you want to take any notes during presentations or discussions.

When I've finished, what course can I do next?

Further information can be found on the City Lit website, www.citylit.ac.uk.

General information and advice on courses at City Lit is available from the Student Centre and Library on Monday to Friday from 12:00 – 19:00.
See the course guide for term dates and further details


Book your place

Course Code: HH660

Mon, eve, 24 Jun - 29 Jul '19

Duration: 6 sessions (over 6 weeks)

Full fee: £89.00
Senior fee: £89.00
Concession: £39.00

Or call to enrol: 020 7831 7831

Download form & post

Any questions? humanities@citylit.ac.uk
or call 020 7492 2652

Please note: we offer a wide variety of financial support to make courses affordable. For more information visit our online Help Center. You can also visit the Information, Advice and Guidance drop-in service, open from 12 – 6.45, Monday to Friday.