Deference (also called submission or passivity) is the condition of submitting to the espoused, legitimate influence of one’s superior or superiors. Deference implies a yielding or submitting to the judgment of a recognized superior, out of respect or reverence. Deference has been studied extensively by political scientists, sociologists, and psychologists.

Conceptual History
Already the antique knew the motive of the self-sacrifice (devotio), for example in the case of the history of the Roman consul Publius Decius Mus, who was 340 BC. To win the battle of Mount Vesuvius, to have sacrificed to the gods.

World Religions
The Judaism knows the kawwanah as devotion of the faithful in prayer.

The church fathers was devotio then the Christian program, especially in Ambrose, for them as godly devotion and piety together with the faith (fides forms) the basic condition for that man’s grace can attain God. In the late 14th century, the devotio moderna, a religious renewal movement inspired by Christian mysticism, emerged in the Netherlands and aimed more than mainstream Christianity for personal and internal piety. Also theDevotion – as a religious submergence – is closely related to devotion. A special act of devotion to God is the vow. As devotional objects are called in Christianity objects such. For example, crosses, images of saints, and icons to inspire piety.

The devotion also plays a central role in Islam. The Arabic word Islām (إسلام) means “surrender”, which is also devotion to God.

In Hinduism, Bhakti denotes the path of loving surrender to a personal God. The worship takes place in the form of prayers, songs (bhajan), or the pagination (puja) against the deity. Particularly pronounced is the worship of Krishna.

Secular Meanings

Devotion in an exercise at a drama school
The term “devotion” is today often colloquially used to designate that someone performs an activity with love and commitment.

The work psychology knows the term organizational commitment (commitment = Engl. For “Devotion”, “binding”), which refers to the motivation of an employee to work for a company or an organization.

Sexual Devotion
Sexual surrender – as a willingness to let off sexual arousal – was more likely to be women than men in the Western world until the 20th century. In his Metaphysical Foundations of Theory of Law (1797), however, already had Kant found that men and women indulge in sexual another. The lovers make themselves for each other a pleasure object, whereby the enjoyment, although interspersed with active moments, on the whole is a passive behavior.

An accurate literary description of sexual devotion has been provided by DH Lawrence in 1928 in his novel Lady Chatterley, a novel for the development of feminine sexuality. With sober precision, Lawrence describes how the main character, Connie, first threatens to spoil her own critical intellect with love –

“She felt herself a little left out. And she knew, partly it was her fault. She wants herself into this separateness. Now maybe she was condemned to it. She lay still, feeling his motion in her, his deep-sunk intentness, the sudden quiver of his at the springing of his seed, then the slow-subsiding thrust. That thrust of the buttocks, surely it was a little ridiculous. If you were a woman, and a part in all the business, surely that thrusting of the man’s buttocks was supremely ridiculous. Surely the man is intensely ridiculous in this posture and this act! ”

“She felt a bit overlooked. And she knew it was partly her own fault. She forced herself into this separateness. Now maybe she was damned. She lay still, feeling his movement in him, his deep zeal, his sudden quivering at the ejection of his seed, then the slowly fading pounding. The bumping of the buttocks, that was certainly a bit ridiculous. If you are a woman, and part of the whole affair, then the bumping of the man’s buttocks is certainly profoundly ridiculous. Certainly, the man is enormously ridiculous in this attitude and in this act! ”

– DH Lawrence: Lady Chatterley’s Lover, Chapter 10
– later finds devotion and fulfillment:

“This was different, different. She could not do anything. […] Womb was open and soft, and softly clamouring, like a sea-anemone under the tide, clamoring for him to come back and make a fulfillment for her. Strange and rhythmic growing motion, swelling and swelling till it filled all the way cleaving consciousness, and then the unspeakable motion that is not really moving, but pure deepening whirlpools of sensation swirling deeper and deeper through all of the tissue and consciousness, until they are a perfect concentric fluid of feeling, and they lay there crying in unconscious inarticulate cries. ”

“This was different, different. She could do nothing. […] While her body was open and soft, gently shouting as a sea anemone under the flood demanded that he come back into her and bring her fulfillment. She clung to him, unconscious of passion, and he never quite left her, and she felt his soft bud move in her, and strange rhythms rose in her, growing in a strange movement that was becoming more and more rhythmic and grew until their split consciousness was completely filled with it, and then began again the unspeakable movement, which was not really movement, but only deepening swirls of sensations that spiraled deeper and deeper through all their flesh and consciousness until they were perfect was a concentric flow of sensations, and she lay there,

– DH Lawrence: Lady Chatterley’s Lover, Chapter 10

Smolenski (2005) examines deference in colonial Pennsylvania, to see how claims to political authority were made, justified, and accepted or rejected. He focuses on the “colonial speech economy,” that is, the implicit rules that determined who was allowed to address whom and under what conditions, and describes how the qualities that inspired deference changed in the province from 1691 to 1764. The Quaker elite initially established a monopoly on political leadership based on what they believed to be their inherent civic virtue grounded in their religious and social class. By 1760, this view had been discredited and replaced with the consensus that civic virtue was an achieved, not an inherent, attribute and that it should be determined by the display of appropriate manliness and the valor of men who were willing to take up arms for the common defense of the colony. Further, Pennsylvanians came to believe that all white men, not just wealthy property owners, were equally capable of achieving political voice. Martial masculinity, therefore, became the defining characteristic of the ideal citizen and marked a significant transformation in the way individuals justified their right to represent the public interest.

Erving Goffman, a Canadian-born sociologist and writer, explored the relationship between deference and demeanor in his 1967 essay “The Nature of Deference and Demeanor”. According to Goffman, a person with a poor demeanor will be held in lower esteem in the eyes of society. The same is true for people who behave in a good demeanor, however: society will hold them in a higher esteem. An example of this situation can be seen through the way a person acts in a social setting. e.g. a man pulling out a chair for a woman at a restaurant. On the other end of the spectrum, a person not bathing before they go to a fancy dinner party. These examples can be defined as presentational deference. Demeanor does not only limit itself to the actions of an individual, but also the appearance of an individual. A person offers themselves to a social group through a good appearance or a well demeanored appearance. When an individual has a well demeanored appearance it makes interaction between people easier. After a person is socially accepted to a group, it is expected that they will conform to interactional norms. Through acting on those norms, people receive deference.

There is ongoing debate among psychologists as to the extent to which deference in a relationship is determined by a person’s innate personality type or is the result of a person’s experiences and conditioning. In interpersonal relationships, a partner can assume a submissive role to fit in or to make him or herself acceptable to the other partner, and can be a benign aspect of a relationship. On the other hand, it may be an indication of an interpersonal problem, such as partner abuse. If one or both of the people are experiencing chronic, pervasive emotional distress then the sex partners or individuals may require psychological evaluation.

In interpersonal relationships, some people prefer or are willing to adopt a submissive role in sexual activities or personal matters. The level and type of submission can vary from person to person, and from one context to another; and also is dependent on the other partner being willing to assume control in those situations. Some people can include occasional acts of submission in an otherwise conventional sex life, or adopt a submissive lifestyle.

Source from Wikipedia