The relationship between domination and resistance

Published 15 Mar 2017

Domination means to have power over someone or something, and dominance is the fact of being stronger, more powerful, or more noticeable than other people or things. From the human perspective, people see domination as the act of trying to oppress or force ideas on them, by other people who have more power or authority over them.

“We understand dominating power as that which attempts to control, or coerce others.” Sharp, J. P, Routledge, P, Philo, C, Paddison, R. (1999).

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Resistance on the other hand, is the refusal to accept or go along with new ideas or changes. When people resist an idea, they are trying to prevent change, or prevent themselves from being forced to accept or go along with that particular idea. Human resistance can also be seen as the act of opposing or fighting someone, or something.

Resisting power is “ that power, which attempts to set up situations, groupings and actions that resist the impositions of dominating power.” Sharp, J. P. et al. (1999).

The relationship between dominance and resistance is a mutual one, as humans tend to become resistant when the feel that they are being oppressed. “There are uncountable processes of domination and resistance that are always implicated in, and are mutually constitutive of each another.” Sharp, J. P. et al. (1999).

The term resistance also has political overtones, as people have used it, along with similar terms, to bring support to opposition groups. The discontent that results when there is domination of people can cause resistance.

There are “messy entanglements of domination/resistance, as always energized by the machinations and effects of power.” Sharp, J. P. et al. (1999).

One type of resistance that has been used a lot in the past is the hunger strike. By definition, hunger striking is an unsustainable form of resistance. “Hunger striking rebuffs a particular notion of domination and resistance that positions subjects simply as the victims of state power, and simultaneously stages the seizure, and re-symbolization.” Anderson, P. (2003). The meaning of resistance within that economy becomes especially potent when the terms of its performance potentially occasion the death of its practitioners.

“Hunger striking, that is, explicitly ups the stakes of political action. In his intensely intimate ethnography of political violence.” Anderson, P. (2003). Therefore, power is “operative both in moments of domination and resistance, and can be assessed in both positive and negative terms.” Sharp, J. P. et al. (1999).

Works Cited

  • Anderson, P. (2003). TO LIE DOWN TO DEATH FOR DAYS. The Turkish hunger strike. 2000-2003. University of California, Berkeley.
  • Scott, J. C (1990). Domination and the Arts of Resistance:: Hidden Transcripts. Yale Univ.
  • Guha, R. The Unquiet Woods: Ecological Change and Peasant Resistance in the Himalaya.
  • Sharp, J. P, Routledge, P, Philo, C, Paddison, R. (1999). The Entanglements of Power: geographies of domination/resistance. (2002)Lethal Theatre: Performance, Punishment, and the Death Penalty.
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