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Title:The Concept of Authority in Kenneth D. Benne's Social and Educational Thought
Author(s):Tozer, Steven Elliott
Department / Program:Education
Discipline:Education
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Degree:Ph.D.
Genre:Dissertation
Subject(s):Education, Philosophy of
Abstract:The purpose of this study is to examine and evaluate Kenneth D. Benne's conception of authority in society and in education. It seeks also to explain the conceptual relationship between Benne's two careers: one as philosopher of education and one as a leader in the field of group dynamics.
Taking a Deweyan perspective that views democracy in terms of shared interests within and among groups, Benne establishes an ideal of community that incorporates non-authoritarian authority relations. He believes authority is necessary to community life and seeks to distinguish authority from coercive power. In his view, authority is constituted in human relations that are triadic in nature, involving the willing obedience of (1) a subject of authority to (2) a bearer of authority in (3) a particular field of transaction. Benne goes on to identify three kinds of authority relations: expert authority, the authority of rules, and the authority of community, first expressed as "pedagogical authority" and later as "anthropogogical authority."
Benne offers an account of the obstacles to democracy in modern technological society by presenting a view of social "crisis". Crisis is found in social disorder and confusion that threaten human growth and integrity at various levels of experience: in personal identity, in social relations, and at the deeper level of the norms and values which characterize a culture. Benne is sympathetic to those who identify modern capitalism as an obstacle to human fulfillment, but he tries to show that "controlling technostructures" are more fundamental that the fact of ownership in creating authoritarian social relations.
Benne's recommendations for establishing a more democratic society in modern life center around his notions of the re-educational group and anthropogogical authority. These two concepts are the intersection point for Benne's two careers and represent his liberal-democratic corrective to social arrangements that arise from, or contribute to, authoritarian authority relations.
This study argues that the strengths of Benne's work lie in his analyses of authority, community, and education, while his treatments of social crisis and planned change are weaker. This particularly suggests the limitations of education and "re-education" for effecting social change.
Issue Date:1982
Type:Text
Description:184 p.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1982.
URI:http://hdl.handle.net/2142/68838
Other Identifier(s):(UMI)AAI8303007
Date Available in IDEALS:2014-12-15
Date Deposited:1982


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