Social Stratification/Inequality associated concepts:

status, hierarchy, class, rank, caste, prestige, power, influence, control, authority, superordination/ subordination/submission, wealth, affluence, slavery, serfdom, etc.

Universal features of primate (including human) dominance orders (Lopreato & Crippen, 1999)

1) top stratum = oligarchy [coalition] of males; dominance struggles primarily among males

2) determinants of status = size, strength, age, fighting ability; alliances & coalitions

3) dominants enjoy privileges re mating & resources

4) dominance maintained through: aggressive displays, courting subordinates, other types of coercion and deception

5) dominance orders tend to be stable (although mobility exists)

6) higher dominance positions take adults several years to attain

7) dominance orders remain despite scarcity/plentifulness of resources, or natural or contrived environments (w/o predators)

8) competition for dominance increases when competition for resources intensifies

9) roles dominants play:

10) status inheritance common

"Everywhere the tendency has been toward a division between those, always a minority, who have appropriated the richest supplies and those, always a majority, who must make do with the remainder, often the bare minimum needed for survival" (Lopreato & Crippen, 1999)

"It is a law of nature, common to all mankind, which time shall neither annul nor destroy, that those who have greater strength and power shall bear rule over those who have less." - Dionysius

Why the struggle for dominance?

Does this really play out in reality among humans? Yes! status striving = adaptive

(ambition, competitiveness, political savvy, identifying with powerful, need for power/control/glory/prestige, instinct to dominate, greed, etc.)

deception also adaptive - propels us to seek selfish ends and convince others to help us, cloaking actions in "collective interest"

Dominance just isn't a man's game:

"Power is the ultimate aphrodisiac." - Henry Kissinger

"If women didn't exist, all the money in the world would have no meaning." - Aristotle Onassis

"I don't know a single head of state who hasn't yielded to some kind of carnal temptation, small or large.  That in itself is reason to govern." - Francois Mitterand, 1998

Development of classes:

coalitions among individuals trying to climb hierarchy and/or maintain their

Redistribution of wealth as equalizer?

Conclusion: large degree of dominance behavior & status striving = inborn adaptations

poverty is relative across time and societies


Lenski article

points for discussion:

Milovan Djilas (1957), Yugoslav comrade of Tito: "Everything happened differently in the USSR and other Communist countries from what the leaders …anticipated."

Vilifredo Pareto: history is “a graveyard of aristocracies”

The Who: “Meet the new boss, the same as the old boss”

French saying: “The more it changes, the more it remains the same”

Small-scale attempts to eliminate inequality: Israeli kibbutzim

Yunus article

points for discussion: