Effects of Format on Content and Message

The format of a work can completely change the way an author approaches and conveys a topic or argument. JL Molina et al. (2017) and Mary Cathrine Bateson (2016) are all anthropologists with two different views on competition and cooperation and their roles in society. They deliver these two views in two different ways, a review and a speech, respectively, that each compliment their arguments in their own ways.

To begin with, Molina et al. (2017) present their argument, as they mention, in the form of a review. This entails them drawing from many sources to support their claim that “cooperation and competition coexist in all societies […] as separate dimensions” (14). This helps them to show validity in their claims. They start with reviewing “the evolution of cooperation” supporting it with the theories of “kin selection, reciprocity, and group selection” (11). They then apply these in comparison to competition in three different types of societies, Hunter-gatherers, Tribes, and Peasants, before reaching the main argument previously mentioned. They do so, by following a strict formal structure, clearly introducing and concluding each of the points. This allows for a good review structure because they are making a claim, looking at the evidence, and applying their claims to the evidence, in the form of a review. In context to our ongoing class discussion, this review shows that cooperation and competition are not two clashing, or for a lack of better words, “competing”, ideas. They are both present in most social settings, but in their own independent contexts. The review claims that the two cannot be related to one another, therefore, cannot be the cause or effect of the other.

On the other hand, Bateson, though in the same professional field, had a different perspective on the topic. She used an informal speech to declare that cooperation was more favourable in a society than competition, because of the effects they both had. Bateson put emphasis on climate change and how it was a result of competition and conflict, however could be improved if society, as a whole, cooperated. Delivering this message in a more informal context allowed Bateson to connect better with her audience and convey the message on a personal level, in turn, allowing her argument to be taken into serious consideration by her target audience.

As I was reading the other reading responses, I found it very interesting that Hanan and the user jinmanabe had similar points, but completely different conclusions. Hanan concluded that “Evidently, both anthropologists have led themselves to the same conclusion, cooperation and competition go hand in hand”. Whereas the user jinmanabe argued that “Even in the same field of anthropology, different anthropologists see competition differently”. Though I see Hanan’s perspective of Bateson seeing the connection between competition and cooperation, my conclusion lies fully in agreement to jinmanabe.

Illustration: Liu Rui / GT

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