Different Views of Competition in the Same Field of Anthropology

Even in the same field of anthropology, different anthropologists see competition differently. Here, I would like to discuss the difference in the approach two anthropologists took where J.L. Molina in “Cooperation and competition in social anthropology” explained how cooperation and competition existed throughout history and Bateson in “The Myths of Independence and Competition” argued how cooperation is better than competition. Though both articles were each written by an anthropologist, I believe J.L Molina was able to present a more in-depth analysis of what he thinks competition and cooperation is due to her way of presentation.

Unlike Bateson, who conveyed her opinion of how cooperation is better than competition by backing it up with some examples, Molina specifically referenced other people in her article similar to Ingraham. This allowed Molina to seem more credible. This is also done, as he specifically talks about competition in the aspect of anthropology as an anthropologist. For example, Molina describes why humans cooperate by explaining the term “Kin Selection,” where it is not the individual who acts selfishly in its attempt to survive, but the gene. Bateson, though an anthropologist, used more general examples such as the phrase “survival of the fittest” which is more or less unrelated to her profession. Also, Bateson, as her article was a speech towards more professional people, she did not explain her examples. Molina, as her article was published in Anthropology Today Vol. 33 No. 1, he has explained most of her examples, especially examples such as the “Prisoner’s Dilemma” (which I have talked about in a previous post) which is related to economics rather than anthropology.

As stated by Jessiec’s post, it is hard for us to give a meaningful comparison of each article as they both have a different purpose, as stated above. I think Molina’s article would be more interesting and beneficial to most people as he has written assuming a wider range of audience than Bateson. By reading  Molina’s article, the audience is informed about how cooperation and competition have existed together throughout history which is explained through anthropology. Bateson’s article, on the other hand, may not be of interest to many people, but strongly conveys her opinion of how she believes cooperation instead of competition is the key that would allow us, as a society, to live on. Also, it is true that as Molina focuses more on anthropology, Bateson’s article may be easier to understand even if she does not explain thoroughly her examples, her examples tend to be common examples many people know.

Personally, I liked Molina’s “Cooperation and competition in social anthropology” better as it gives us an insight into how competition gave rise in historical context and he has explained to the audience the reasons by using anthropology. However, Bateson’s“The Myths of Independence and Competition” was interesting in the sense that unlike other articles, she focuses mainly on her opinion and backing that opinion up, where most other articles gave facts and through references explained what they think competition is. Agreeing more to Molina’s article, I believe we do not and can not live only with cooperation or only with competition but we, as a society, experience both cooperation and competition as they both coexist together. Agreeing to Viktor’s idea, cooperation and competition should not be words with an opposition but two different terms that coexist with each other.

Image Credits: “Anthropology (MA).” Graduate Admissions, graduate.carleton.ca/cu-programs/anthropology-masters/.



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