Alan Page Fiske on ‘Human Sociality‘, a great read. Do we see this in the making in Blogosphere or the p2p world or the sim city / communities that are spurning out? My notes from the article here:
Relationships are patterns of coordination among people; they are not properties of individuals.
Sometimes people even buy and sell for the satisfaction of the social game, not just for the material objects they acquire. Even when people act in pursuit of material goods, they typically do so for the sake of the social significance of the goods: to create or transform social relationships. Your house, your car, your clothes, your meals, and of course your money mediate your relationships with your social world. Even your health or your life may be valuable to you primarily because of the social relationships that it permits.
What is adaptive (in every sense of the word) is coordinating interaction with the people around you. Patterns of interaction differ greatly across cultures, so people need to be able to fit their sociality to their particular community, meshing their motives and actions with the culture. But the diversity of culturally organized, complex social relationships presents a seemingly impossible learning problem: how can a child, an immigrant, or a visitor possibly discover the principles that underlie relationships in a strange culture (such as the one into which you are born)? The coordination of interaction is all the more challenging because of the variety of domains that must be coordinated: work, exchange, distribution and consumption, moral judgments, sanctions and forms of redressing wrongs, aggression, sexuality, social identity, the meaning of objects, places, and time. If people use different models to coordinate each domain, how can they deal with the resulting cognitive complexity of social life, let alone integrate several domains to form a personal relationship or an institution?
The answer, surprisingly, is that people use just four fundamental models for organizing most aspects of sociality most of the time in all cultures (Fiske 1991a, 1992). These models are Communal Sharing, Authority Ranking, Equality Matching, and Market Pricing.
Communal Sharing (CS) is a relationship in which people treat some dyad or group as equivalent and undifferentiated with respect to the social domain in question. Authority Ranking AR relationships are based on perceptions of legitimate asymmetries [linear hierarchy], not coercive power; they are not inherently exploitative (although they may involve power or cause harm). In Equality Matching relationships people keep track of the balance or difference among participants and know what would be required to restore balance. Market Pricing relationships are oriented to socially meaningful ratios or rates such as prices, wages, interest, rents, tithes, or cost-benefit analyses.
People often use different models for different aspects of their interaction with the same person. For example, roommates may divide the rent evenly and take turns cooking dinner for each other (both EM), buy ingredients for the meal at the store (MP), share their food and drink at the table without regard to who consumes what and share living and bath rooms (CS), pay for long-distance calls according to the costs they each incur (MP), and one may sell her used car to the other. On the softball field one is a coach, the other player (AR); yet in their sexual relations they like to reverse these roles of domination and submission.
People use these models to construct, coordinate, and contest social action, as well as to interpret, plan, and remember. The term “models” may suggest that these relational coordination devices are primarily cognitive, but they integrally comprise emotions, motives, needs, evaluative attitudes and judgments.
The complexity of social life comes from the combinations of models that people use. The diversity of social relationships comes from the fact that using the models to generate action, affect, or evaluation requires cultural implementation rules that are indefinitely variable. The models themselves are not sufficient to determine behavior or cognition without setting cultural parameters, paradigms, and prototypes that specify how, when, where, and with respect to whom the models can be implemented. For example, … Traditional Africans pool labor, food, and living space to an extent that often astonishes Americans. But in these same societies, people almost never disclose their past actions, their plans, their aspirations, their attitudes or their feelings even to family members—the Communal Sharing of these subjective matters in America often astonishes Africans.
Even if it’s plausible to imagine that these four models could govern most of everyday social life, do they? What’s the evidence? Nick Haslam and I, as well as several other researchers, have conducted dozens of studies that show how the models shape diverse aspects of everyday, real life social cognition, interaction, and evaluation. In a series of 11 studies, we found that the theory predicted how people confuse one person with another in naturally occurring social errors. People often call someone they know by the wrong name (calling your daughter by your younger sister’s name), or they misremember with whom they did something (thinking they told you something, when actually they told someone else).
This prediction has been strongly confirmed in every case: people do not think about their own social life in terms of continuous variables such as power and solidarity; nor in terms of game theoretic motives such as competition, cooperation, aggression, cooperation, or altruism; nor in terms of complementarity versus symmetry (Fiske, Haslam, & Fiske 1991; Haslam 1994a, 1994b, 1995a, 1998; Haslam & Fiske 1992).
We are currently studying the ontogenetic emergence of the relational models and the manner in which children discover how to implement them in a culturally appropriate manner.