Forgiving Competition

This post responds to Tobias Werron’s research article, “Why Do We Believe in Competition”, and compares and contrasts with two other articles, “The Myths of Independence and Competition” by Mary Catherine Bateson and “Rhetoric and Competition” by Linda Hutcheon.

Throughout time, competition has had a different definition in the different areas of society. From the sports field, to the classrooms, and in the workplace, there is a constant presence of competition surrounding these environments. Dr. Tobias Werron points out that there needs to be a more in-depth understanding of modern forms of competition and its role in society today. The way Werron presents his research is completely different from Bateson and Hutcheon. Bateson’s was a speech given at an Anthropocene conference. Although Hutcheon’s work was also published in a journal, Werron’s paper seems to target an audience of sociological expertise versus Hutcheon’s interdisciplinary address.

Mary Catherine Bateson is an American anthropologist. In her reading, she presented a speech she had previously given at a conference, promotes a lot of her own opinions and ideas, along with a few other people’s ideas (her father) as citation for evidence in her work. Bateson talks about competition as being unnecessary, and wonders why everyone can’t work together. In her speech, she claims competition as a negative aspect in one’s life due to its unnatural tendencies.

Linda Hutcheon, however, uses a wider variety of sources to particularly support her evidence. Hutcheon also uses rhetorical questions to leave readers with specific thoughts to themselves. One of the questions brought up was about how universities today have turned into a more corporation state, which has created a sense of competition between faculties of schools, with solo awards. Hutcheon’s article is similar to Bateson’s in terms of both authors sharing their personal opinions to steer readers away from the idea of competition and to work as one.

Dr. Werron’s paper differs from Hutcheon’s and Bateson’s because he does not side with competition, nor is he against it. Werron wants his readers to look at how much competition has advanced from way back when up to society today. Through his research, Werron encourages his readers and researchers to use his work as a source towards doing other research regarding sociological competition. This article produced by Dr. Werron is important because of Werron’s address of competition in day-to-day life. Competition is active everywhere in the world and with a better understanding of this ideology, I believe it will give a better understanding of the world and how we can go about it in our lives.

Since this course has begun, the idea of competition has been particularly interesting to me in school. I do not consider myself as a competitive person in school or work and even for sports. Yet, I do agree with Werron’s idea of gaining a deeper knowledge behind competition with how it works, why it works certain ways and its overall history. With Werron’s research, it would be nice to dig deeper and research to gain a better understanding on competition, to figure out how school does not have to seem like a place of competition, but a place of inspiring scholars wanting to work together so in the end all are successful. Zschaab sum’s up Werron’s view on competition in his response’s conclusion: “Werron successfully breaks down the notion that competition is caused directly by neo-liberal politics and instead acknowledges the fundamental truth of competition as a social form.”

The idea of competition has become a bigger topic than I had thought. If everyone were to work with one another, everyone would need to have a deeper understanding of the concepts of competition, which is the point Werron makes in his article. It would be the starting point because it could lead to the development of different ways everyone can work together, efficiently. Although there are many different fields of study in university, it would not hurt to understand how a sociologist can work with a psychologist, rather than one feeling of more of an expert than the other. Everyone seems to be an expert at everything, but if no one knows everything, it might help to work together to find it all out instead of racing to the top.

#WRDS350 #competition #Werron #Hutcheon #Bateson #evolution


  1. This really explained the differences and similarities between the readings so well. I thought it was really interesting how you mentioned at the end how psychologists and sociologists should be able to work together. It brought me back to Bateson’s reading as she sort of mentioned how it is more natural for people to collaborate than to compete. Having scholars from different fields working together reminds me of Bateson’s reference of the Tower of Babel where people could no longer work effectively when they couldn’t speak the same language. Finding a way for two scholars from different fields to speak a similar language and work together I thought really referenced some of the ideas in the previous two readings. I really liked how straight forward you compared and contrasted all the articles and gave a summary of your own thinking.

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  2. I’m glad this post points out the big differences between not only the different mediums that each of the arguments (Bateson, Hutcheon and Werron) were presented in, but also the audiences, which I believe to be a key point in understanding the credibility of each author. More importantly, I’m glad that you noticed (clearly before I did), that Werron IS, in fact, taking a stance on competition: in my first reading of Werron, I saw him as a neutral, unbiased source, but this post points out that Werron is asking something of the readers- he wants them to think more deeply about competition and how it’s gotten its “fundamental” role in our society. He, like Bateson and Hutcheon, also has a point he’s trying to make, but rather than directly telling his audience to go be less competitive (as Bateson and Hutcheon do), he lays out facts and arguments to lead the audience to their own conclusion of what they should do. That said, while Werron doesn’t portray competition as necessarily good or bad (which, as you mention, is a big difference between him and the other two papers we’ve read), he DOES straight up deconstruct the idea of competition as fundamental, by narrating us through the historical evolution of the term, so that suggests to me that he’s not totally impartial in this- I don’t feel like people tear apart concepts like that unless they take SOME issue with them or the way they’re currently being studied.

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