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Did tribal humanity really have alpha males?

Discussion in 'Off-Topic' started by Mr. Dictator, Aug 5, 2012.

  1. Mr. Dictator

    Mr. Dictator A Chain-Smoking Fox

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    I thought so, but now I've run across a quote from a study that seems to disagree.

    I'm not really sure how to construct the OP from this point, besides asking:

    "When did this dominance begin?"

    "Were tribal humans correct in not allowing their sociopathic members from reproducing (or surviving), should this be true?"

    "Could there be a time in human history where dominance is not seen as a positive trait?"

    "Can someone open my eyes a little more on this?"
     
  2. Gigaz

    Gigaz civoholic

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    I think the term "egalitarian" depends on what you compare. Every ancient and modern human community is egalitarian in comparison to a chimpanzee community.
     
  3. Mr. Dictator

    Mr. Dictator A Chain-Smoking Fox

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    How cynical are we when "egalitarian" is a word based in comparison?

    And, well, it did say "largely egalitarian."
     
  4. Terxpahseyton

    Terxpahseyton Master and Apprentice of the 8 Winds

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    I think the standard answer is that dominance began with the emergence of property. Though the emergence of property corresponds with the emergence of great increases in the size of groups of people who live together and I think that is also a significant influence.
    Both is a consequence of the emergence of agrarian societies and from what I have read has significantly stifled life quality until the industrialization managed to rise above mass pauperisms.
     
  5. Winston Hughes

    Winston Hughes Wrathful Warlock Retired Moderator

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    Probably because there are numerous cases of anti-egalitarian practice to be found, in addition to the egalitarian ones. Perhaps the most remarkable feature of human societies is their diversity, as evidenced by the difficulty anthropologists have in agreeing on anything concrete when it comes to universal rules of social organisation. It seems that nearly every such claim can be countered by a whole load of examples to the contrary.
     
  6. BvBPL

    BvBPL Pour Decision Maker

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    If by alpha males you mean that there was one male who mated with all of the females, as is done with wolves, lions, and other pack animals, then no. There is no evidence to suggest that a single male mated with all females within a community. Doesn't happen among lower primates either.

    The rise of hierarchy was we now understand it with kings, leaders, and such directing the use of labor probably did not, and could not have occurred prior to development of agricultural or pastoral labor. Indeed, contemporary communities that do not rely upon agricultural or pastoral labor, and instead rely upon hunting and gathering or non-agricultural farming (ex. slash and burn) do not exhibit the same level of social hierarchy seen in agricultural or pastoral societies. The anthropological community larger accepts that the rise of a strong social hierarchy and divisions of labor by gender and other factors are closely tied to the form of labor used to provide sustenance within a community.
     
  7. Cutlass

    Cutlass The Man Who Wasn't There.

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    I don't see how they could possibly make a definitive statement on social hierarchy of ancient humans. Those "primitive tribes" that survived into modern times had leaders of one sort or another, even if those leaders fell far short of kings or dictators in their actual power and influence.

    I'm reminded of this which may give some clues:

    http://whynationsfail.com/blog/2012/5/9/what-really-happened-during-the-neolithic-revolution.html

    The point being that social heirachy preceded agriculture and pastoralism.
     
  8. TheLastOne36

    TheLastOne36 Deity

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    Yup, it's another what came first, the chicken or the egg thing, where the answer is simultaneously neither and both.


    Also I swear I remember reading somewhere that tribal humanity had dominant females in society, not males.

    It's worth noting that in Polynesia anyway, the tribal leaders rarely had more elaborate households, income, workforce etc. than their other tribesmen.
     
  9. AlpsStranger

    AlpsStranger Jump jump on the tiger!

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    I don't know about alpha males necessarily, but you could always take someone's mate, kill their children, and move into their hut.
     
  10. Glassfan

    Glassfan Mostly harmless

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    Anyone familiar with the controversy surrounding Anthropologist Margaret Mead's research on Samoa, which dominated thinking in Cultural Anthropology for half a century before being proven wrong, will show a little care and judgment before jumping on any new preliminary study bandwagon.
     
  11. Terxpahseyton

    Terxpahseyton Master and Apprentice of the 8 Winds

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    Well I for one never questioned that some form of hierarchy was presented throughout human history. I also don't think that htis is actually proposed by Anthropologists. But there are many ways people can be unequal and those ways know a myriad of nuance. And in light of that it to me is more a matter of quality of inequality than existence as such. And there I think it is very believable and plausible that relatively small hunter--gatherer--formations knew much less inequality then ensuing bigger societies with some concept of property.
    Your link is interesting though, a hunter-gatherer-town seems anti-intuitional.
     
  12. Cutlass

    Cutlass The Man Who Wasn't There.

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    Of course there was less inequality. When the sum total of a community's wealth allows everyone to have enough to eat most of the time, and one guy has enough to get fat, that's not really all that large of a disparity. Disparity in that sense requires material abundance, which no one before agriculture and pastoralism could create. But just because the magnitude of differential was by necessity much smaller, that does not imply that some people did not give orders, and others be forced to comply with them.
     
  13. Crezth

    Crezth 話說天下大勢分久必合合久必分

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  14. Quackers

    Quackers The Frog

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    downtown male > alpha male.
     
  15. GoodSarmatian

    GoodSarmatian Jokerfied Western Male

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    I think that depends on the size of the tribe. The larger it gets the more organisation is required and complex organisations need hierarchies to function effectively.That doesn't necessarily mean there has to be one alpha male, there could also be some sort of ruling council.
     
  16. Formaldehyde

    Formaldehyde Both Fair And Balanced

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    I just posted this in the youtube thread. I think it is clear alpha males continue to have a pervasive influence on our society, much less in the distant past.

    As the alpha male pees into the just lit fire again...
     
  17. Traitorfish

    Traitorfish The Tighnahulish Kid

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    I'm not sure if that's actually true. There are numerous examples of cultures without discernible leaders. Cribbing from David Graebar, the Bororo, the Baining, the Onondaga, the Wintu, the Ema, the Tallensi and the Vezo all represent cultures lacking in any coherent form of social hierarchy. Even those which do possess social hierarchies (between genders, between generations, between senior and junior lineages, etc.) don't necessarily have any sort of identifiable leadership-group, just people of greater influence and esteem.

    Either way, it wouldn't necessarily tell us very much. There are no pre-historic human cultures, only cultures whose history has not produced the same outcomes as ours, so there's no reason to believe that simplicity of social order represents vintage. Even those who still possess a hunter-gather lifestyle are wholly distinct and historicised, and so can't be taken to represent any "original" form of human social organisation. (There are a number of hunter-gatherer bands in South America, for example, who are now believe to have been horticulturists in the pre-Columbian era, and to have "reverted" to a hunter-gatherer lifestyle in the chaos which followed transatlantic contact.)

    Debatable. A lot of current thought tends towards the conclusion that network structures are actually more efficient for some purposes, because their decentralised and dynamic form allows the to avoid the tendencies towards inefficiency and entropy that are inherent in any hierarchical model. (And that's not just little old anarchist me saying it, it's a big thing among post-Fordist business theory types.) A lot of it comes down what an organisation is doing and how it does it, and all that we can say for certain is that "hierarchies are necessarily for an organisation to function effectively in fulfilling the needs of the hierarchies", which: duh.
     
  18. BasketCase

    BasketCase Username sez it all

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    With the first time one human being stabbed another with a spear.

    And what is this, really? Dominance by whoever administers the social sanctions, banishments, or death. Any political system that is policed, is dominated by the police. Any system that is not policed (anarchy, for all practical purposes) is dominated by the physically strong, or by those who are best with a spear or a gun.
     
  19. SS-18 ICBM

    SS-18 ICBM Oscillator

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    Is there even any solid evidence one way or the other?
     
  20. Traitorfish

    Traitorfish The Tighnahulish Kid

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    What's the empirical basis for this claim? (Note: "common sense" is not only invalid as a response, it also means that you are prohibited from ever making any sort of claim about anything ever again.)
     

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