What Is Domination?

The meaning of domination can be vague. Domination means preeminence or supremacy over another. It is also considered as the exercise of ruling power or mastery. Furthermore, it can also mean being an exercise of governing, preponderant, or controlling influence. Domination is related to term domain that means home. It can also mean being the most prominent.

Components of Domination

There are many theories about domination. Some understand it as a value of freedom, justice, and equality. These theories also clarify people’s judgments about what it is to be weak against uncontrolled strength and about what it is to be degraded from unrestrained power.  

The following are some components of domination.

Domination as a power

Domination can be a type of power. It can be a social power over other individuals. With this, one can suffer under the control of another who is more dominant. There is no equality between if power is used for domination.

Domination has different forms

Domination has different degrees. Someone can be dominated even if no one has total power over them. For example, in traditional Roman republicanism, there is a different between imperium and dominium. It is dominated by the state compared with domination by private parties. The clearest case of domination is the power of a master over a slave.

Domination comes with asymmetries or imbalance in power

In English, domination is originated from the Latin word dominus. Dominus means master and mastery is a representation of intense social power. For example, the master has complete control over how the slaves will act. The relation of master and slave is the most obvious domination case.

Domination is a form of unjust social power

Being dominated is usually causes for resentment and indignation against the dominator. It may happen between social groups. White people are supreme than black people can be a good example of unjust domination of social power.

Who can dominate?

Domination can happen between agents, groups, and group agents. In the neo-republican tradition, domination is presented as a relation between agents. The agents can be dominated or dominate. In a group agency, someone can dominate through their joint intentions and beliefs among the group members. In groups, domination can be parasitic on group membership between individuals. Domination also counts if one is a member of a dominant group, and the other is a member to a subordinate group.

Does domination need the exercise of power?

Among the concerns about domination is that does it needs the exercise of power. Neorepublicans associate domination to what agents are in a position to do or their capacity to do than what agents usually do. It is due to the role of domination in their ideas of freedom. Domination doesn’t really need the exercise of power in some circumstances.

Does character matter in domination?

Sometimes, the dominated have complaints about the character of the powerful. In neorepublican theories, domination is formed by resistance in political slavery wherein the slave’s essential humanity is not in question. On the other hand, slavery can be formed through an ideological commitment to black inferiority and white supremacy.

Domination and Applied Ethics

The idea of domination can be rationalized beyond philosophy in applied ethics. The awareness of domination can also draw attention to how moral wrong can be clearly outside the limits of individual actions. In a corporate world, the person who has a higher position can dominate among his or her group members. It can also be considered as leadership.


To sum it up, there are different theories where domination can be applied. Some theories about domination provide people insight about social injustice, for example, racial discrimination. In other theories, domination is the supremacy of an individual over the other. One person has full control to the other. This can be best explained by the relation of a master and a slave.

Domination can have a different meaning to different people. For example, your team can dominate in the game. There are also instances wherein a political group can dominate others. Domination can be a practice of power to control others. Meanwhile, not all domination is negative. For example, in sports, one team can dominate other teams since they are the winner in the game.

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