Defining Competition

In comparison to Hutcheon and Bateson’s papers on the subject of competition, Werron’s article “Why do we believe in competition? A historical-sociological view of competition as an institutionalized modern imagery” takes a closer look at the specific roles of competition within society. Unlike Bateson and Hutcheon, who address the subject through a broad spectrum of disciplines and references, Werron picks apart the specific roles of competition within the discipline of sociology. Werron’s focus on sociology, combined with the fact that his paper was published in the Scandinavian Journal of Social Theory,sets Werron up as a reliable source. He is clearly educated within his field of research. As his status as a credible sociologist is clear, his significant relevance to the field is unquestionable. Throughout his paper, Werron keeps the attention of the hypothetical reader by identifying the roles of both modern and historical competition, as well as addressing a wide range of topics regarding the role of competition through a sociological lens.

            In defining the difference between competition and conflict, Werron’s paper immediately brings to light more specifics than Hutcheon and Bateson’s – while both of their papers remained relatively vague on the definitions of competition (perhaps purposely so in order to retain the notion that the definition of competition is relevant to a given situation), Werron describes it as “a form that requires at least two participants struggle for the same scarce good, without necessarily directly interacting with each other.” He makes it clear that while competition may lead to conflict, one is not immediately defined as the other. Unlike Bateson and Hutcheon, Werron holds a more neutral stance on the role of competition rather than deeming it negative. He addresses competition as a driving force in society that has existed throughout history, one with both positive and negative consequences. As Sophia Wilson points out in her response, Werron defines competition as a social form with a changing and evolving definition.

Werron goes to great lengths to describe the historical roles and views of competition within society. He uses this as a launch point to discuss perhaps more pressing modern ideas of competition. He discusses the notion of “free competition” acting as a justification for competition, specifically within the marketplace. This idea is meant to benefit both the consumer and society, and therefore the business as well. He brings up the interesting subject of “symbolic capital”, meaning ratings or levels that do not hold monetary value but hold a different kind of worth. He suggests that “the modern promise of competition” has worked for itself to become largely accepted as a part of society. He then states that human belief in competition is a “discourse effect”. He mentions alternate views of competition, the first being that modern competitions “are not restricted to economic markets”, bringing to mind the role of competition within individual social situations. The second view is the notion of “pure competition”. Overall, Werron strives to address competition through a more empirical lens than through the presentation of opinions and metaphors. By giving the word a more solid definition, he allows the topic to be analyzed with a closer intensity than if he kept the idea of competition abstract.

1 Comment

  1. Hey! Great post, I completely agree that Werron’s paper allows for competition to be studied more systematically and scientifically. Which paper do you think does the best job at engaging their readers? Do you think that a paper that papers should engage readers to be considered “good”?


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