Monkey Business

Saxat ur boken Chimpanzee Politics av Frans de Waal:

The classical lens through which Western scientists have tended to study the social behavior of animals has resulted in a sharp focus on competition, territoriality, and dominance. Ever since the discovery of the pecking order among hens by the Norwegian Schjelderup-Ebbe, in 1922, the status hierarchy has been seen as the main form of social organization. The study of monkeys and apes was for years dominated by attempts to rank individuals on a vertical scale, from high to low. There was, however, an exception: within the Japanese school of primatology, research workers were more interested in kinship and friendships. They classified individuals horizontally, representing them in a web of social connections. A distinction was made between central positions in the web and – in a concentric circles around the heart of the group – increasingly peripheral positions. They were interested in the extent to which the other members of the group accepted an individual and which kinship group he or she belonged to. Broadly speaking, whereas the Western view sought to describe primate society in terms of a ladder, the Japanese were thinking in terms of a network. If we regard these two methods of approach as complementary it becomes clear why stable dominance relationships only partially ensure peace in the social system. “Horizontal” developments – in which children grow up and social ties are established, neglected, or broken – inevitable affect the temporarily fixed “vertical” component, the hierarchy.

de Waals bok är en enastående redogörelse för våra närmaste släktingar schimpansernas beteenden och samhälle. Genom fleråriga observationer av en grupp apor ledde de Waal och hans forskningskolleger fram till en mängd slutsatser om deras sätt att leva, vilket på ett slående sätt kopplar an till människan.

Ett stycke som ovanstående till exempel, pekar i mina ögon på hur snävt vi ofta betraktar samhällsfenomen i vår egen vardag. Att se till samhället genom en postmodern lins där det primärt handlar om att tillskansa sig makt är helt enkelt bara en liten del av sanningen och otillräckligt. Genom samhället strömmar en mängd olika relationer och fenomen som bara kan beskrivas med kompletterande perspektiv. Detta måste tas i beaktande när man försöker förstå en viss situation.

de Waals bok inriktar sig på schimansernas beteenden, inte att dra paralleller till mänsklig dito. Boken blir trots detta en slags initiator till mängder av associationer runt mänskliga beteenden. Det är intressant, roande och tänkvärt. Jag kan å det varmaste rekommendera Chimapnzee Poliltics.

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