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Lecture 12

SOSC 1040 - Lecture 12 Notes

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Social Science
SOSC 1040
Claudio Colaguori

SOSC 1040 Jan 17, 2013 Competition, Contest and Society  Our society is obsessed with competition; one of the most cherished values o Live in a hyper-competitive society  Socialized from young age to accept competition as normal, natural, desirable. o Some believe it’s the wellspring of evolution and life.  “Competition is the world’s largest secular religion” – widely held belief that it’s only positive with no negative consequences. o Like religions has its social institutions in sport, democratic politics, business, finance, education, etc. o Promoted as a main ideology in mass media: predator animal shows, competitive cooking, love, sports shows - Human nature is flexible – no such thing as “human nature”, some things are biologically inevitable {bipedalism etc} - Taken for granted belief: competition is inevitable and human nature - Competition is the primary organizing aspect of society  Sociological science: cooperation is the type of human bhvr that allowed human species to succeed o If competition was the primary factor in human nature, we’d be extinct by now  Darwin’s science of “natural selection” isn’t the same as competition between species: complex ecological systems are based on the dynamics of cooperation among different plant and animal species. o Struggle for existence is oft. against environmental threats not necessarily predators  Kohn: 4 myths of competition and contest: 1. Unavoidable fact of human nature 2. Motivates people to perform their best 3. Main ingredient of fun, entertainment and play 4. It builds a strong character and self confide - Winner-loser mentality everywhere in society; why do we have to compete at all? - Cooperative education {Finland} is much better - In nature there’s more cooperation and symbiosis than competition 1 SOSC 1040 Jan 17, 2013  “Healthy competition” is a contradiction in terms  Some sociobiologists argue that competition is innate in our biological makeup; no evidence to support this belief  Competition is “just natural”: a grand ideology, serves to legitimize the status quo of our competitive capitalist, militaristic society. o Helps normalize the fact that we live in a winner-loser culture where far too many people live in poverty  Gets explained away as people being losers, and “to the victors go the spoils”, just as in warfare.  Pro-social bhvrs & desire for cooperation & sharing are normal in young children, but get socialized out as they learn to accept the values of competitive life o Some wish that “everyone can win” when playing, so not all children give in to the
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