Facts Seeing or experiencing domination techniques

Domination techniques and social manipulation are common ways of winning debates, or giving your statements more legitimacy.

What are domination techniques?

Domination techniques are used in different social situations. They often occur in a subtle and normalized manner that makes it hard for us to realize what is going on. However, these situations often cause us to feel uneasy and run over. Domination techniques are ways to demonstrate power through social manipulation and are often used to preserve hierarchies, getting your own voice heard or silencing others.

Examples of domination techniques are:

  • Invisibility – when someone makes you feel unseen, forgotten or excluded.
  • Mocking – when someone makes you feel small, stupid or insecure.
  • Retention of information – when you are consequently the last to hear information that concerns everyone or if you are not included in communication channels etc.
  • Double punishment – Damned if you do, damned if you don’t. An example can be if you are either accused of being to humble, kind and quiet or for being heated, nagging and dominant.
  • Application of guilt and shame – someone makes you feel guilty about something even though it is not your fault. An online example is when people think you are to blame for getting cyberhate from others, arguing that if you only did not take up as much space, had so many opinions or had less private picture – you would not get into as many problems. Not acknowledging that the responsibility should always be on those exposing others, not on their victims. 
  • Objectification – seeing someone as an object instead of a multi-dimensional individual.
  • Division – playing people belonging to the same minority against each other or doing so with different groups that are targets of discrimination. Also letting a single person represent the group as a whole.
  • Mansplaining – when someone explains something to you even though you have more knowledge and insights about the subject.
  • White privilege – using one’s privilege as a white person to dominate a conversation or telling a minority group about your own opinion as if it was the norm. To show emotions, for example getting sad or hurt, instead of listening and taking one step back when getting discrimination pointed out to you. To demand a good tone and nice climate in a situation when your privilege makes you not affected by the situation. To be able to move safely in public space, offline and online, without risking being stopped, questioned or excluded. 
  • Refusal to use a person’s correct pronoun.

All of these techniques can be used to conquer, demonstrate or consolidate power and getting others ”in line”. They more often affect people that already are marginalized or targets of structural discrimination.

What can you do?

  • Stand up for the person who is exposed to them, and show that you are on their side. Ask the person who using dominations techniques why they are doing that, this is disarming. 
  • Make sure that everyone who is a part of your group and has the same mandate as the rest is invited to informal Facebook groups, email threads, and chat conversations.
  • If someone uses domination techniques against you, ask them to go back to the matter at hand.

Advice Question portrayals that are exclusionary or discriminatory.

If people or groups are presented as two-dimensional (ie that a group is “like this”). You can question this by asking the person the basis for the statement, possible reasons for the statement, or point out what is disrespectful/offensive/discriminatory about the statement.

Advice Question why someone takes liberty to decide who may take the floor and speak

Is it possible that marginalized voices are not represented?

Advice Use source criticism