An Anthropological View On Competition


In this reading response, I would like to compare the economic anthropologist J. L. Molina’s “Cooperation and competition in social anthropology” published in 2017, and Bateson’s “The Myths of Independence and Competition” published in 2016. Although both Molina and Bateson are anthropologists, their approach to project “competition” were different.

As Bateson’s main point was to convince her audience that the society would be much benefitted from less competition, and pushing her audience to move towards interdependence, her use of the form of speech to address her audience was certainly helpful in the sense that through this method, she would be able to reach her audience on a slightly more personal scale.

On the other hand, Molina’s article was more for informing his audience, and not trying to push them in one direction or another. Adding onto the fact that Molina had written his academic journal based on the information he had gathered from his time while he was with his research group. Therefore, perhaps to his audience, if compared to Bateson’s, may seem more like a more reliable source to get this information from directly. As opposed to Bateson who did not have first hand experience in seeing the action on a larger scale on the population in which competition was in fact not helping the people.

Both anthropologists seem to take a similar stance on the topic of competition, and lean towards the concept of trust and harmony of the people in our society. And they both seem to reach into a bit of history and biology. However, I still see a difference in their views on this topic. Much like Werron (a professor of general sociology who wrote the academic journal “Why do we believe in competition?”), I feel that Molina does not take a stance on competition. He links more to cooperation to ruling most of human behaviour, before linking that to competition. Also, by looking at cooperation and competition from a social anthropological view, Molina shows more examples of how harmony has been helping smaller groups in the society by helping each other thru actions such as prosocial behaviour and gift giving. Whereas Bateson gives less examples of exactly how we should aim towards trusting each other and working together. Bateson states that we need to work together more in order to improve the quality of life. However, in Molina’s article, it shows that we already work together, and that working together helps build us up to be better in competition, stating that working together can be “typically… understood as a response to competition” (page 11).

Through the research Molina has been a part of, he brings many aspects of competition as well as perspective on how humans had learned to cope with or avoid it from the viewpoint of social anthropology, he also brings forth many biological aspects. And although, as stated in @vijocalvoCalvo’s reading response, the article does seem to be constantly repeating itself with additional big words, I thought it was really interesting how Molina had brought in cooperation with competition, as they seem to be such contrasting concepts.


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