Why do we obey? This was at the heart of Serbulent Turan’s PhD dissertation – “Patterns of Obedience: Dreams, Demons and the Dead” – which looked at historical contingencies in European history that were instrumental in bringing about modern, democratic concepts of citizenry, political obligation and obedience to political authority.
Turan, who is in the process of completing his PhD in Political Science, wanted to examine the hybridity between political science and psychology in formulating an answer to this important question. More importantly, using historical examples, he tried to explain why people taken prisoner appeared to psychically freeze and become compliant to their captors, even when death at the captor’s hands was imminent and there’s a real possibility of escape.
In this TEDx Terry Talk, Turan explores cases of obedience, and resistance, to authority from historical examples to the more recent Arab Spring, and how we can use this model to explain our own acts of obedience.