Structures of Social Life

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9780029066874: Structures of Social Life
About the Author:

Alan Page Fiske is Professor in the Department of Anthropology at the University of California, Los Angeles, where he has also served as Director of the Behavior Evolution and Culture Center, and Director of the Culture, Brain, and Development Center. He has worked abroad for eight years as a Peace Corps Volunteer, WHO consultant and Peace Corps Country Director as well as conducting ethnographic fieldwork. He is widely known for his Relational Models Theory, the only comprehensive, integrated theory of human sociality, which has been tested and applied in numerous studies by hundreds of researchers.

From Publishers Weekly:

The West African Moose people of Burkina Faso communally share scarce resources like food, water and land. These villagers "take what they need and contribute what they have"; Moose males sometimes share wives too through "transfers." In general, Moose equality and kindness predominate over competitiveness, reports University of Pennsylvania psychology professor Fiske. His point is that the selfish individualism we in the West prize would be considered bizarre or even perverse by the Moose and many other cultures. A sweeping, provocative intellectual adventure despite its leaden, textbookish prose, this tome holds that there are just four basic modes of social interaction: communal sharing (e.g., Quaker meetings, family togetherness); authority ranking; the reciprocal give-and-take of equality matching; and the cost/benefit calculus of market pricing. Fiske draws unfashionable conclusions: people are fundamentally sociable and often will prefer sharing to self-interest; duty and desire are not inherently opposed--in fact, they tend to coincide.
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