Collision of Wills: How Ambiguity about Social Rank Breeds by Roger V. Gould

By Roger V. Gould

Minor money owed, derisive feedback, a struggle over a automobile parking space, butting in line—these are the little issues that however account for far of the violence in human society. yet why? Roger V. Gould considers this fascinating query in Collision of Wills. He argues that human clash is likely to happen in symmetrical relationships—among pals or social equals—than in hierarchical ones, in which the variation of social rank among the 2 members is already established.

This, he keeps, is simply because violence traditionally happens while an individual desires to in achieving superiority or dominance over another individual, whether there's no great reason behind doing so. In making the case for this unique inspiration, Gould explores a various diversity of examples, together with murders, blood feuds, vendettas, revolutions, and the standard disagreements that compel humans to behave violently. the result's an clever and provocative paintings that restores the research of clash to the guts of social inquiry.

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Even if the current discussion ends with a 54 CHAPTER Two joint decision, things will still not be the same unless you receive an apology as well: otherwise, your friend will have arrogated at least the right to make further attempts at shifting the terms of your relationship. My argument, then, is that interpersonal conflict stems mostly from disagreements about the amount of dominance exerted in social relations. When two people get into a fight about a debt or about ownership of a mule, about whether the ball was in or out or whether it was all right to divulge a secret to a mutual friend, it is conventional to say that the fight was "about" the debt, the mule, the ball, or the secret.

But long-term relations need not be hierarchical, and even if they are there is no transaction-costs explanation for the fact that workers consistently occupy the subordinate position in them. The fact that firms are almost invariably hierarchical in this way needs to be distinguished from the mere fact that firms exist. 44 CHAPTER Two cal parents (with substitutes in anomalous cases such as orphans and abandoned children), whereas in other settings they may fall under the authority of whole collections of related adults, of uncles or aunts, or of older siblings.

I am jumping ahead, however. The goal of this section has not been to make theoretical claims about the connection between dominance and conflict but to set out a definition of dominance and to show that it can be meaningfully and reliably applied to a range of instances. The definition I have offered is not as thin as that employed by psychologists and ethologists, but it is a good deal thinner than others available in the social sciences more generally. What is useful about thin definitions, as I have just suggested, is that they permit one to start simply and only gradually build toward more elaborate propositions.

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