‘We have a choice’: Identity construction and the rhetorical enactment of resistance in the ‘two peers rebel’ condition of Stanley Milgram’s obedience experiment

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Abstract

Recent re-evaluations of Milgram’s obedience experiments have drawn attention to the role of social identity and group processes. Milgram himself was concerned to explore processes of group influence by varying the collective dynamics of his experimental scenario in several conditions. The present study seeks to explore archived audio recordings from one of Milgram’s group experiments – the ‘two peers rebel’ condition – from a perspective informed by discursive and rhetorical psychology. The findings show that collectivity was an active concern for speakers in the sessions, with contestation over the relevant group boundaries, and the appropriate course of group action. It is suggested that explanations of behaviour in Milgram’s experiments that emphasise intergroup dynamics would benefit from attention to the ebbing and flowing of solidarity in the experimental sessions.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEuropean Journal of Social Psychology
Early online date14 Nov 2020
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 14 Nov 2020

Keywords

  • obedience
  • Rhetorical psychology
  • discursive psychology
  • engaged followership
  • social identity
  • social influence

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