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Are Humans Genetically Predisposed to Forming Social Hierarchical Power Structures?

 
 
Reply Thu 26 Feb, 2009 01:52 pm
I just watched an episode of The Life of Mammals by David Attenborough (think Planet Earth if you don't know the name) called the "The Social Climbers," and it was about the social lives of apes. The episode looks at Orangutans and Chimpanzees and both of the species form social hierarchies based on male dominance over one another. While both species form strong friendships, individuals know their place in rank, and if they step out of line, the dominant individuals put them in their place. So now I wonder, since humans are apes, are we genetically predisposed to form social hierarchies with distinct power structures?
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Type: Discussion • Score: 1 • Views: 3,569 • Replies: 28
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Mr Fight the Power
 
  1  
Reply Thu 26 Feb, 2009 02:30 pm
@Theaetetus,
I would say that it is highly likely, although there are definitely factors working against such a hierarchy. It also seems very likely that there are certain biological factors like this influencing wage disparities and other socioeconomic gaps.

It is unfortunate that we cannot really get a good objective study into this sort of thing. Any time a study comes out that states such hierarchy and wage gaps are biologically influenced, people flip out.
0 Replies
 
Bones-O
 
  1  
Reply Thu 26 Feb, 2009 04:00 pm
@Theaetetus,
Theaetetus wrote:
I just watched an episode of The Life of Mammals by David Attenborough (think Planet Earth if you don't know the name) called the "The Social Climbers" and it was about the social lives of apes. The episode looks at Orangutans and Chimpanzees and both of the species form social hierarchies based on males dominance. While both species form strong friendships, individuals know their place in rank, and if they step out of line, the dominant individuals put them in their place. So now I wonder, since humans are apes, are we genetically predisposed to form social hierarchies with distinct power structures?

Well, we pretty much always have. I think it's a jump to say that we are directly predisposed toward hierarchical structures. Certainly I'd agree we are predisposed toward behaviour that builds hierarchical groups: competition, self-interest and protection, fear of intimidation, admiration, politics, etc, etc. I'd say it's the natural state of species with our characteristics.
0 Replies
 
Elmud
 
  1  
Reply Thu 26 Feb, 2009 04:01 pm
@Theaetetus,
Theaetetus wrote:
I just watched an episode of The Life of Mammals by David Attenborough (think Planet Earth if you don't know the name) called the "The Social Climbers" and it was about the social lives of apes. The episode looks at Orangutans and Chimpanzees and both of the species form social hierarchies based on males dominance. While both species form strong friendships, individuals know their place in rank, and if they step out of line, the dominant individuals put them in their place. So now I wonder, since humans are apes, are we genetically predisposed to form social hierarchies with distinct power structures?

Hmmm. I'll leave this one alone.:listening:
Theaetetus
 
  1  
Reply Thu 26 Feb, 2009 05:18 pm
@Elmud,
Elmud wrote:
Hmmm. I'll leave this one alone.:listening:


I am curious as to why. I fixed the OP, because female apes hold important social positions in ape cultures and my original post looked like I was using it to argue for a justification of female subordination. This is strictly an argument about the male portion of the human population. From the dawn of human civilization men have been creating exclusive hierarchical power structures, and I wonder if this is a genetic disposition.
GoshisDead
 
  1  
Reply Thu 26 Feb, 2009 06:52 pm
@Theaetetus,
YES Humans ARE...
Khethil
 
  1  
Reply Fri 27 Feb, 2009 03:17 am
@GoshisDead,
Yea,

Not because "we are apes"; cuz we're not (just a part of the same, big happy family Smile ). As I understand it, quite a number of species are hierarchical. Just the other day I watched a documentary on the elephants of Botswana; they're quite structured socially and happen to be matriarchal.

Terminology fails me; but I believe this predisposition to such social structures are fruit of the survival-via-cooperation genetic tree.

Thanks
0 Replies
 
Theaetetus
 
  1  
Reply Fri 27 Feb, 2009 07:15 am
@Theaetetus,
I think you are right, Khethil, on species forming social hierarchies where cooperation is required for survival. An interesting thing about great apes is that their overall culture are matriarchal, but the males form their own competitive social hierarchies.

I just thought it was funny watching a bunch of male chimpanzees interact. It reminded me of children on the playground, and how the playground always seemed to have a social hierarchy that would form.
0 Replies
 
Ola
 
  1  
Reply Sun 1 Mar, 2009 10:44 am
@Theaetetus,
Theaetetus wrote:
I just watched an episode of The Life of Mammals by David Attenborough (think Planet Earth if you don't know the name) called the "The Social Climbers," and it was about the social lives of apes. The episode looks at Orangutans and Chimpanzees and both of the species form social hierarchies based on male dominance over one another. While both species form strong friendships, individuals know their place in rank, and if they step out of line, the dominant individuals put them in their place. So now I wonder, since humans are apes, are we genetically predisposed to form social hierarchies with distinct power structures?

"Are Humans Genetically Predisposed to Forming Social Hierarchical Power Structures?"
Well the question in generalising. There's simply are too many humans and too many types to say.

But if I had to say: Then yes - we'd like to think that we are logical beings but I don't think we are. Our intellect does not control us. Our intellect gives/create us excuses (when we follow/give in to our lusts and desires).
boagie
 
  1  
Reply Sun 1 Mar, 2009 11:19 am
@Ola,
YO!Smile

This is a most interesting dialogue, it might be interesting--[though perhaps a little dangerous] to inquire into the development of these hierarchal structures in relation to the coevolution of the sexes, also, how does the female function of sexual selection influence the creation and maintenance of these said structures, for ultimately the centre governing principle for the male is the acquisition of the female.
xris
 
  1  
Reply Sun 1 Mar, 2009 12:03 pm
@boagie,
I am trying hard to go against this proposition being rebellious and not wanting to toe the party line but i cant help seeing our systems showing signs of this basic animal structure in our societies. However much we assume we have developed and become more socially adapt in moving between structured society it still appears a certain hierarchial system prevails. I will still try to buck this basic urge by being rebellious...well as long as my tribe does not exclude me..
boagie
 
  1  
Reply Sun 1 Mar, 2009 12:35 pm
@xris,
Smile

Just a thought, can it be said that our biology is a hierarchial structure, and that culture and society are then extenisions of the structure, is it even desireable to have it any other way, accept perhaps to refine those hierarchial structures. The model for society is our own biology, the army, police departments and the courts, aspects of its immune system.
xris
 
  1  
Reply Sun 1 Mar, 2009 01:00 pm
@boagie,
boagie wrote:
Smile

Just a thought, can it be said that our biology is a hierarchial structure, and that culture and society are then extenisions of the structure, is it even desireable to have it any other way, accept perhaps to refine those hierarchial structures. The model for society is our own biology, the army, police departments and the courts, aspects of its immune system.
The thing is we all want to be at the top and or despise those who attain more..well i am british..
boagie
 
  1  
Reply Sun 1 Mar, 2009 06:22 pm
@xris,
xris wrote:
The thing is we all want to be at the top and or despise those who attain more..well i am british..



xris,Smile

Yes all I am saying is that the structures we create are natural, and perhaps it is unnatural to have a social order with no chiefs but all indians, the concept of equality can be carried to far, to the depriment of all concerned, on a biological level I wonder how this plays out.
Theaetetus
 
  1  
Reply Mon 2 Mar, 2009 06:24 am
@boagie,
boagie wrote:

Yes all I am saying is that the structures we create are natural, and perhaps it is unnatural to have a social order with no chiefs but all indians, the concept of equality can be carried to far, to the depriment of all concerned, on a biological level I wonder how this plays out.


I think on a biological level, without chiefs, a culture would organization and leadership and be in danger from outside threats. Without a unifying force created by the biologically fittest, the group would be susceptible to predation and other dangers. Of course, humans have found ways around this by killing most of the potential natural predators, creating weapons to protect themselves from alien cultures, and by developing agriculture.
boagie
 
  1  
Reply Mon 2 Mar, 2009 08:24 am
@Theaetetus,
Theaetetus,Smile

Interesting speculations, it might prove productive to continue along this line of thought, the possiablity of improving our own biological systems through free speculation and thus tinkering with its extensions is a definite possiablity. Perhaps it might be helpful also to look at other biological systems both past and present to explore possiabilities, personally I do not have much of a knowledgable back ground in biology.
0 Replies
 
hue-man
 
  1  
Reply Thu 16 Apr, 2009 10:31 am
@Theaetetus,
Theaetetus wrote:
I just watched an episode of The Life of Mammals by David Attenborough (think Planet Earth if you don't know the name) called the "The Social Climbers," and it was about the social lives of apes. The episode looks at Orangutans and Chimpanzees and both of the species form social hierarchies based on male dominance over one another. While both species form strong friendships, individuals know their place in rank, and if they step out of line, the dominant individuals put them in their place. So now I wonder, since humans are apes, are we genetically predisposed to form social hierarchies with distinct power structures?


It's probably true, as many if not all social animals have hierarchies. The difference between us and them is our ability to reason.
GoshisDead
 
  1  
Reply Thu 16 Apr, 2009 11:35 am
@hue-man,
hue-man wrote:
It's probably true, as many if not all social animals have hierarchies. The difference between us and them is our ability to reason.


Does the ability to reason really make that much difference in this particular case? Its not like their has ever been a group of people that hasn't formed a hierarchy of some sort.
hue-man
 
  1  
Reply Thu 16 Apr, 2009 12:29 pm
@GoshisDead,
GoshisDead wrote:
Does the ability to reason really make that much difference in this particular case? Its not like their has ever been a group of people that hasn't formed a hierarchy of some sort.


Our ability to reason and empathize is the reason why we have been able to form our own values and societal systems in spite of the sometimes cruel ways of animal nature.
GoshisDead
 
  1  
Reply Thu 16 Apr, 2009 01:06 pm
@hue-man,
Make the most complex society with the grooviest laws ever all because of our rational thought abilities, it still has no bearing on the genetic predisposition to hierarchical socio-political structures. All the rational thought of all history has yet to produce a non hierarchical community.
 

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