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Title: The dramaturgical devices of Stanley Milgram's obedience to authority experiment
Author: Oppenheimer, Maya Rae
ISNI:       0000 0004 5367 1975
Awarding Body: Birkbeck (University of London)
Current Institution: Birkbeck (University of London)
Date of Award: 2015
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Stanley Milgram’s obedience experiment is one of the most famous experiments in the history of psychology. This magnanimous statement, and so many others like it, is invariably followed by a claim that Milgram proved the majority of people will harm another person if instructed to do so by an authority figure. This thesis is a close and experiential reading of Milgram’s obedience to authority experiment conducted at Yale University between 1960 and 1963 not to ascertain the truth behind such claims but to accept them and build a narrative towards how they came to be. Milgram’s experiments are a complex and nuanced case study with which to examine the transferential relationship between science and culture. Taking the simulated shock generator as an omnipresent and invaluable aspect of Milgram’s laboratory apparatus, I introduce a specific way of seeing the paradigm: as a metaphorical model for critiquing the social world rather than measuring and generalising our role as agents within it. Incorporating a visual rhetorical approach mixed with design history, media studies and history of science, I also demonstrate the importance of fiction in methodological investigations in both history as well as social science. These directions help me answer the question of: what can we learn from looking at this well-worn subject from an object perspective; and what happens to a laboratory instrument when we take it out of its disciplinary enclave of empirical science? The result is an imminent critique about representational frameworks, the pursuit of knowledge and how we draw upon structures of investigation to simultaneously inform and critique the social world. My research draws heavily upon the Stanley Milgram Papers at Yale University, the Archive of the History of American Psychology at University of Akron, and Dramaco Instruments, a fictional and informative resource.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available