Competition, Cooperation and Human Societies

Competition and Cooperation, both have always co-existed in human societies and culture. The authors of “Cooperation and competition in social anthropology” provide a social anthropological research of this topic by reviewing competition and cooperation in the literature and presenting social anthropological theories in three different types of human societies(Hunter-gatherer, tribal and peasant).

The contrast in how competition and cooperation are understood in literature versus human societies has been highlighted by the authors. While I initially bought into the “literature” side of the argument, that cooperation is “understood as a response to competition”, the social anthropological understanding of competition and cooperation made more sense after reading this article. Since “social anthropologists have provided ample evidence that cooperation has not only emerged as an answer to competition but that the two coexist in every known society”, Bateson’s argument, which completely diabolizes competition and urges the world to embrace cooperation, seems a bit absurd. Despite the fact both the authors are anthropologists, the different genre of both their articles is what really made JL Molina’s article look more professional and rational. Bateson’s article was a speech whereas Molina’s article goes in depth to understand competition and cooperation in society.

I somewhat disagree with Vicente Calvo’s opinion that “this could have been demonstrated in a way shorter text”. We need to understand that in an academic environment, we cannot just state an argument or a claim, we need to prove its credibility and explain to the audience why we stated something. It could definitely have been demonstrated in a shorter text, but without proving the credibility of the claims made in the argument. In my opinion, this would defeat the purpose of writing a research article, as they are written to prove a claim through an argument presented to an academic community.

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3 Comments

  1. Hey! I agree that research articles have to provide reasonable backing and are thus longer and may be repetitive, so we cannot hold that against the authors. However, I do not think it is fair to say that Molina was more professional than Bateson, since they had two completely different contexts for their publications, as you pointed out yourself. Speeches are meant to be normative and revoke emotional responses, so I think Bateson actually fared pretty well for herself in her social context. But I can definitely see how you can come to your conclusion when comparing the texts directly.

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  2. Hey, thank you for your comment. I think that we are on the same page. My intent was to tell why Molina’s article looked more professional, not to compare its professionality with Bateson’s article. However, I believe that you are right in pointing that out since I didn’t make it explicitly clear in my response.

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  3. @elisejuncker (sorry didn’t know how to tag you before) Hey, thank you for your comment. I think that we are on the same page. My intent was to tell why Molina’s article looked more professional, not to compare its professionality with Bateson’s article. However, I believe that you are right to point that out since I didn’t make it explicit in my response.

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