Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Elements of Control: What is Control?

Control: 
Noun
1. The power to influence or direct people's behavior or the course of events
2. The ability to manage a machine, vehicle, or other moving object:
3. The restriction of an activity, tendency, or phenomenon:
4. The ability to restrain one's own emotions or actions
 
Verb
1. Determine the behavior or supervise the running of
2. Maintain influence or authority over
3. Remain calm and reasonable despite provocation - Source

Recently I came across a supposition on Fetlife that asserted the equation Ritual + Protocol = Control. I instinctively disagreed with this idea, as neither of those things are high priorities within my relationship. It got me thinking about what control is and what comprises this concept of control we use within authority/power dynamics. Because, while the proposed equation is simple, control is certainly not. I thought perhaps I might explore the idea of control and subsequently the elements that can combine to form this idea.

But first, I think it's helpful to figure out what control is, at least within the context of authority dynamics before delving into its atomic structure, so to speak. After perusing a few different dictionaries, I settled on the OED, which provided those listed above, among other less relevant choices. Of these, the following seem most applicable to the concept we refer to when discussing power relationships.

Noun
1. The power to influence or direct people's behavior or the course of events
 
Verb
1. Determine the behavior or supervise the running of
2. Maintain influence or authority over

The key concepts in these definitions are directing behavior and influence. I would hazard to say that these represent the two major facets of control, active and passive. Determining or directing behavior involves active control, whereas influence is not always so overt.

For example, active control would involve things such as establishing rules, issuing commands, physical manipulation/restriction, restriction of access, etc. Influence is a more subtle beast, in which the burden falls more on the side of the controlled. Planting ideas rather than mandating them, expressions of preference, displays of pleasure or displeasure.

So, I would perhaps say that Directing Behavior + Influencing Behavior = Control. Everything else, including ritual and protocol would fall under those parameters. And perhaps I am wrong in my use of the term "elements" in referring to the aspects of control. As I would say that things like rituals and protocols are manifestations of control rather than components of it. Control can exist absent specific manifestations such as protocol, ritual, rules, physical restriction, etc.

Even so, I'd like to explore these ideas, and how they apply within my own relationship and I hope you'll join me in my rampant navel-gazing as I go through this series on control.

2 comments:

  1. Directing Behavior + Influencing Behavior = Control.
    I really like this description.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks! Mid-post epiphanies are fun. Lol

    ReplyDelete