Critique the Power of Organizations from Weberian and Goffmanesque Perspective in the Stanford Prison Experiment

1792 Words Apr 28th, 2012 8 Pages
Q 1. Critique the power of organizations from Weberian and Goffmanesque perspectives in the Stanford Prison

This document briefly reviews and critiques the ideas of Weber and Goffman in applying them to the Standard Prison Experiment.
Weber identified the significance of bureaucracy within organizations. Within the bureaucratic organization there is a stratification of hierarchy where the legal legitimate authority is invested in individuals who exercise command on the basis of rules and not on the basis of personal authority (Morrison, 2006). Legitimate authority within a bureaucratic organization aims to remove the subjectivity and unpredictability of human action thus decisions are made and behaviours implemented in a calculable
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The admission process into an institution is routinely followed by guidelines and procedures (Morrison, 2006) the guards give orders and the prisoners follow them, however the guards mocked the prisoners through this process thus, removes impersonal authority. Clearly Weber’s theory of a rational system incorporating impersonal authority is not sufficient to explain the events of Stanford Prison.
Goffman, Power and Authority A correlation can be made between Goffman’s theory on ‘mortification of the self’ when entering some institutions, and the prisoners entering Stanford Prison. Goffman identifies; names and titles are lost, institutional uniforms replace personal clothing, personal space is lost or disregarded, personal information discussed inappropriately and constant humiliation (1959 in Smith). The men entering Stanford Prison were fingerprinted, photographed, assigned a number, stripped naked and de-loused, personal items removed and issued with prison clothing, while the men’s’ head were not shaved they had to wear a socking to illustrate shaved head (Zimbardo, 2009). This was the result of a deliberate policy from the Superintendent to remove any trace of individual identity (Zimbardo, 2009). Thus the power of the organization to remove the prisoner’s…