Sexual Economics and Social Evolution

To get the evolution of human social cooperation going, it was crucial for there to be more male-female cooperation (pair bonding) and more nonkin male-male cooperation (large-scale social institutions).

Here’s what a “sexual economics” perspective on this matter looks like:

large institutions have almost all been created by men. The notion that women were deliberately oppressed by being excluded from these institutions requires an artful, selective, and motivated way of looking at them. Even today, the women’s movement has been a story of women demanding places and preferential treatment in the organizational and institutional structures that men create, rather than women creating organizations and institutions themselves. Almost certainly, this reflects one of the basic motivational differences between men and women, which is that female sociality is focused heavily on one-to-one relationships, whereas male sociality extends to larger groups networks of shallower relationships (e.g., Baumeister and Sommer 1997;Baumeister 2010). Crudely put, women hardly ever create large organizations or social systems. That fact can explain most of the history of gender relations, in which the gender near equality of prehistorical societies was gradually replaced by progressive inequality—not because men banded together to oppress women, but because cultural progress arose from the men’s sphere with its large networks of shallow relationships, while the women’s sphere remained stagnant because its social structure emphasized intense one-to-one relationships to the near exclusion of all else (see Baumeister 2010). All over the world and throughout history (and prehistory), the contribution of large groups of women to cultural progress has been vanishingly small.

Why did human males evolve this desire for, and ability to sustain, large-scale cooperation? Chimp and bonobo males certainly don’t do it. It is a key question of social evolution.

From:
Roy F. Baumeister and Kathleen D. Vohs, Sexual Economics, Culture, Men, and Modern Sexual Trends Society 10.1007/s12115-012-9596-y here

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