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Actually, the recent research on this finds that it's the other way around: Protocol and ritual provide comfort to the powerful, not the powerless. The powerless are more likely than the powerful to abandon rules and ritual if it favors their interests:

How power influences moral thinking.
By Lammers, Joris; Stapel, Diederik A.
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. Vol 97(2), Aug 2009, 279-289.
The authors conducted 5 studies to test the idea that both thinking about and having power affects the way in which people resolve moral dilemmas. It is shown that high power increases the use of rule-based (deontological) moral thinking styles, whereas low power increases reliance on outcome-based (consequentialist) moral thinking. Stated differently, in determining whether an act is right or wrong, the powerful focus on whether rules and principles are violated, whereas the powerless focus on the consequences. For this reason, the powerful are also more inclined to stick to the rules, irrespective of whether this has positive or negative effects, whereas the powerless are more inclined to make exceptions. The first 3 experiments show that thinking about power increases rule-based thinking and decreases outcome-based thinking in participants' moral decision making. A 4th experiment shows the mediating role of moral orientation in the effect of power on moral decisions. The 5th experiment demonstrates the role of self-interest by showing that the power-moral link is reversed when rule-based decisions threaten participants' own self-interests. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2009 APA, all rights reserved)
by santiago on Mon Apr 19th, 2010 at 09:31:39 PM EST
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