Over the past month, we have learned that competition is found everywhere. Whether it be in our classrooms, our football fields, or on the screen we look at in our hands at every free moment, it is inescapable.
The study of competition, as the authors – Garcia, Tor, and Schiff – described, is all encompassing, relating to many fields and disciplines. Competition does not simply have to be studied by psychologists or anthropologists, but can, and ultimately should, be studied by economists, business owners, and lawyers, to name a few examples they have given. Due to their larger scale of their intended audience, their definition of competition is much broader than those we have seen so far. Not only do they argue an improved model for understanding competition, but attempt to give lessons and recommendations to those around them.
They define key psychological theories and definitions for the sake of cooperation between the disciplines. This brings us back to Hutcheon, who advocated for cooperation between those within the academic discourse community. These three authors are fulfilling, in their own way, her wish.
The model has six basic components; the actor, the target, the situational factors, the individual factors, the comparison concerns, and the competitive behaviour. I find that this model can be applied to the main situation analyzed from Cooper and McGee’s ethnography – university students starting to take prescription drugs illicitly in order to achieve better marks in their courses.
The actors are the university students that are not taking the prescription drugs in university yet, and the targets are the students that are achieving more than them academically. Garcia et al defined the targets as people that are “somewhat better” (635), and in this case is it grades-wise. The situational factor is that most prominent from the categories is proximity to a standard: university is very competitive and filled with high-achievers, and these rankings, or grades, can determine a student’s ‘profit’ from life in the future.
The individual factor that are most applicable is the dimension relevance from the personal subfactor. “Academic performance is relevant to most students” (637), and are very concerned with doing well in school. The comparison concern is their grades, and their ability to succeed in the path that they have chosen. When they see other students taking these drugs, they can feel pressured to take it as well when comparing their situation to those of the students taking them. Finally, the competitive behaviour that arises is the action of taking this performance enhancing stimulants in the hopes of achieving a better grade.
I believe that the model they have developed is very useful in analyzing a plethora, if not the majority, of situations we find ourselves in on a daily basis.