What does the expressions mean in this following text?

Reply Thu 1 Dec, 2016 03:53 am
i'm reading a book about how society can affect men's behavior, but i met a confusing sentence. Here is the paragraph:
"People are commonly raised to believe that they are worthless to begin with, that they should sacrifice themselves for their peers, and that the only way to regain their natural self-worth is by working hard and serving society. Males are unquestionably raised to believe that earning achievements is necessary to prove their value. Thus, males with status regain informal permission to think and act important, with formal authority and external recognition to back them up for as long as they still serve"
Can you explain the meaning of " formal authority" and " back them up for as long as they still serve"? Thank!
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Reply Thu 5 Jan, 2017 04:34 am
This paragraph explains how and why men think and act important. Formal authority here means laws, policies, and social positions that entitle men to think and act important. "back them up for as long as they still serve" basically means men will have aforementioned official entitlement long as they still hold their social position. For instance, we believe it is normal and proper for Barack Obama to think and act important as long as he is the president right? However, when he stepped down the president position, he can still think and act important, but he is not the president anymore, so he loses the "formal authority". You get that?
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Richard B Phillips
Reply Fri 17 Feb, 2017 04:59 am
Formal can mean the public or official. Authority means the power to give orders or make decisions.So interpret the formal authority to mean authority someone has because of their occupation.To serve means to hold a particular office, position etc.Back up means the to give help or support.
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Reply Fri 1 Sep, 2017 09:05 pm
"Formal Authority" here probably means any authority figure of an official nature -- boss, government, family member.

"Back them up for as long as they still serve" probably just means that those authorities will give some kind of support to them as long as men, in this case, continue to do as is expected of them.

My 2 cents,
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Reply Sat 11 Nov, 2017 11:25 pm
Formal is from the history of when things were different, showing and highly regarding respect, reverence, ect...
To back a person is to defend, or validate their actions.
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