The Spirit of Cooperation

The most important thing to remember when comparing Molina and Bateson and their respective articles, is not only the audience they are delivering their pieces to but also the medium through which the message is delivered.  Bateson’s article, The Myths of Independence and Competition was originally a speech given at a conference to a gathering of specialists in cybernetics which was then published as a commentary. Molina’s Cooperation and Competition in Social Anthropology however is a collaborative article published in Anthropology Today, a peer-reviewed academic journal. The format of The Myths of Independence and Competition is clearly stated in the subheading of the article, where it has been labelled as a commentary which quite literally translates to a series of comments. This already creates a distinction between the two pieces as Bateson’s piece is more perspective driven, as evident with her free use of the first person point of view, and her personal anecdotes. Molina’s article however follows the general rule of academia in presenting facts and opinions in a objective manner; there are instances where Molina refers to himself and the other writers of the article in the pronoun form, however this is only found in the introduction and the conclusion.

Another interesting thing I found in the two articles is how the format of the source seems to align itself with the ideologies expressed in the paper by the authors. This is most prevalent in Molina’s paper which itself speaks of cooperation between individuals, and the occurence in groups both of kin, and non-kin. The academics collaborating on this article are non-kin, and yet they cooperated with one another in writing the article. Bateson’s article speaks of humans needing to act as parts of an interdependent system, which would in turn eliminate competition however, the focus on the personal pronouns and her experiences, only seem to reinforce Bateson’s ideas about competition, and individual independence.

Molina’s article Cooperation and Competition in Social Anthropology navigates through the history of social anthropology, and revisits a subject I remember learning about in an ARCL class I took, the concept of networks within the human race. Of course, in the archaeology class this was more in relation to understanding how artifacts from a different race were discovered in the demographic of another. In the article however, Molina discusses the act of gift giving as a mixture of cooperation and competition. The competition is used for the purpose of a social hierarchy, and unlike how Bateson describes it, the two can exist together as it is a mutually beneficial relationship. To me, Molina’s article is a much more realistic view at competition and cooperation in today’s world, while Bateson presents an idealistic solution which would not be possible; or at the very least, not entirely feasible in every part of the world. Her solution works in the context of cybernetics, in a world of science where everything is binary but in a social context is much harder to implement.

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