The Performance of Citizen’s and Organisational Authority

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperResearchpeer-review


This article explores the interaction of two forms of authority: organisational authority and citizen’s authority. The concept of citizen’s authority derives from Pettit, and organisational authority has theoretical roots in Weber. Citizen’s authority entails the right to be author of your own life decisions, while organisational authority is the right of an actor to speak on behalf of an organisation. We take a performative (Austin) ethnographic approach to the analysis of 23 video-recorded consultations with clients (23), their family members (3) and service providers (43) in three Danish shelters. While those with organisational authority can prevail over those with only citizen’s authority, they typically refrain from doing so in an overt manner. We demonstrate that social actors are skilled in performing different kinds of authority simultaneously; interweaving front-stage and back-stage, deploying emotion, laughter and silence.
Original languageEnglish
Publication date2019
Number of pages32
Publication statusPublished - 2019
EventAmerican Sociological Association Annual Meeting. ASA 2019: Engaging Social Justice for a Better World - Sheraton New York Times Square & New York Hilton Midtown, New York, United States
Duration: 10 Aug 201913 Aug 2019
Conference number: 114


ConferenceAmerican Sociological Association Annual Meeting. ASA 2019
LocationSheraton New York Times Square & New York Hilton Midtown
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityNew York
Internet address


  • Organisational authority
  • Citizen’s authority
  • Public encounters
  • (in)felicitous actions
  • Ethnography
  • Video data

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