Humans are primates who live in complex, multi-tiered social systems in which
different layers are functional responses to different environmental challenges.
Chimpanzees, like humans, have a fission/fusion form of social system. The
community is divided into a number of temporary foraging parties whose
composition changes with changes in the environment. A larger group may divide
into smaller foraging groups when food is scarce. Smaller groups may fuse when
food is abundant or when an external threat makes alliances more attractive.
The cohesion of primate groups is maintained by grooming each other. Body
contact and grooming establishes and services friendships and coalitions.
Coalitions protect their members against harassment by the other members of the
group. The more harassment an individual faces, the more important coalitions
are. A coalition’s effectiveness is measured by its members' willingness to come
to each other's aid and is directly related to the amount of time its members
spend grooming each other.
Barbara Smuts pointed to an obvious human feature, that males are
aggressive against females in order to mate with them, but females can and do
resist. A females' ability to resist male aggression is increased by
forming alliances with other females against males. Among the many primate
species in which females bond together, this strategy works.
Females disperse at maturity to join new groups where they do not have female
relatives to protect them. Bonobo chimpanzees are able to form alliances with
unrelated females in the new groups they join. These female bonds are developed
through and supported by frequent homosexual relations between females. Thus,
among common chimpanzees we see relatively high levels of male aggression
against females, whereas among Bonobos male aggression is successfully resisted
and males do not sexually coerce females. In human groups, males often stay in
their birth group; females relocate and are deprived of the support of female
kin and allies, leaving them more vulnerable to male aggression.
Human females tend to seek reproductive success by allying with male mates
with the most resources in part by comply with rules that increase paternal
certainty. [i] Linda Stone summarized
of kin identification:” Kin recognition is known to be widespread among insects,
birds, and mammals. In many species, behavior toward kin is markedly different
from that toward nonkin. Nonhuman primates recognize one another individually
retain recognition over long periods. Related males form cooperative
An alpha-male achieves and maintains his status by forming
alliances with other males especially related ones. Various authors have tried
to show that
monogamy or polygyny were natural, and that the first human
societies were matriarchal, patriarchal, or egalitarian; but all
run up against the same problem
reading into human origins what one wants
to believe. Studies of modern hunter-gatherers show variation in kinship
systems. We do know
that human kinship became important as a framework of
social structure and was interwoven with economic relationships, politics, and
religion. With the advent of pastoralism (livestock herding) and food
became more complex, since it would have been used to
define rights over new kinds of productive property and to transmit these rights
to subsequent generations .[ii]
[i] Smuts, Barbara B. 1995. The Evolutionary Origins
of Patriarchy. Human Nature 6(1): 1-32
[ii] Stone, Linda.
Kinship and Gender. 1997.
Westview Press, Harper-Collins, Boulder. ISBN 0-8133-2859-4
- The book, I and Thou, focuses on intimate relationships. Innate tendencies are hard at
work when people meet, become lovers and end with arguments and fighting. The
same tendencies determine how family members interact and explain why so many
families are “dysfunctional.” When lovers form an enduring pair bond, they often
become parents and everything changes. Humans seek bonding with others and are
distressed when they become isolated. Humans bond to each other in several ways.
The most enduring bonds are kin-related, based on closely shared genes. The
deepest bonding occurs when mother and infant are together continuously from
birth and mother breast-feeds the infant. Bonds among family members are the
most enduring. Bonds to friends, lovers and spouses are the next most
significant. Bonds to colleagues, neighbors and even strangers that are admired
from a distance are next. Friendships are often temporary bonds, based on the
need to affiliate with others for protection, social status, feeding, sex and
- I and Thou is available in a print and an eBook edition for
download. 199 Pages.
I and Thou eBook
Persona Digital publishes a series of books on current topics in
psychology, music, neuroscience and philosophy. eBooks and can be downloaded to any
destination on the planet. Printed books and eBooks are ordered from Alpha
Online. Printed books are shipped only to Canada and the USA by postal
services. Prices are in Canadian Dollars. US Prices are lower, depending of the
exchange rate. The author is
Stephen Gislason MD
Download Persona Books Catalogue
The Psychology & Philosophy series was developed by Persona Digital Books.
The books are copyright and all rights to reproduction by any means are
reserved. The author is Stephen Gislason and the publisher is
Persona Digital Books