Part I: Milgram: Obedience.
In his book, Obedience to Authority, Milgram gives his perspective of how obedience and authority have changed with the division of labor. I agree with Milgram’s views about obedience and authority due to the clips that support his ideas. When a person can see the whole picture, they can think about their actions and the resulting consequences and then decide whether to do something. With the division of labor, individuals have learned to play their role in any undertaking and then leave the rest to other concerned parties. In this way, people rarely think of the result or the bigger picture. This is precisely what happens in the clip. The teachers, in this case, are alienated from their actions. They know that shocking their learners causes pain. However, because the experimenter absolves them of all responsibility, the teachers feel emboldened to do whatever they want. They yield to authority and dissociate themselves from their actions.
Milgram’s experiment is an excellent example of using sociological imagination. Sociological imagination involves putting individual actions and situations in the context of the larger society, and the experiment achieves this. The teachers in the experiment yield to the authority of the experimenter even though they know the electric shock causes distress to the learners. In society, people tend to yield blindly to authority figures, especially when they are not responsible for their individual actions. For example, people will willingly do whatever a government agent asks them to because the agent is an authority figure, and this agent will bear responsibility for whatever happens. If the person is told that their actions serve a purpose in a larger scheme, this assurance persuades the individual and allows them to escape responsibility for their actions. Milgram has placed the teachers and experimenter’s actions in the context of the wider society, which is the very definition of sociological imagination.