Re: rank, hierarchy, and power

Harriet Whitehead (whitehea@WSUAIX.CSC.WSU.EDU)
Mon, 9 Jan 1995 07:25:49 -31802

Let me try this again. Dwight and Mike both read my post as arguing for
the idea that particular societies and cultures (or particular social and
cultural contexts) will 'muddle' the nice distinction they have pointed
out between ranking and hierarhical inclusion (set/subset relationship).

I'll put it more strongly. The nice distinction is what 'muddles' our
insights into the social psychology of ranking. In other words I am
suggesting that wherever you find rank differences, you're going to find
a set/subset relationship process at some level of the situation. Now
there may be particular social and cultural contexts where this universal
tendency is suppressed or modified ('universals' are never universal,
quite), but on the whole *in real social process* there is a mutual
implicature between ranking and set/subset relationships. That is the
ur-logic, shall we say, of one dimension of social life.

On Dwight's point about elder/younger, he is assuming that at a general

an ambiguous situation. Outside of a particular family or seniority-on-the
job context, elders do not systematically outrank *adult* young people.
On a broad, societal level, however there is a tendency for the older
generation to have had an inclusive relationship to the younger [of any
two generations], both at the family level and in terms of occupying
adult social positions, and the psychology of this always relatively
recent state of affairs lingers on, often making for social awkwardness...

Sorry if part of my text is screwed up here. 'Pine' is not working for me

Harriet Whitehead
Anthropology, WSU