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The egalitarians, human and chimpanzee : an anthropological view of social organization /

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Format: Book
Language: English
Published: Cambridge University Press, 1991
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This innovative book challenges the perceived view, based largely on long observation of artificially-fed chimpanzees in Gombe and Mahale National Parks, Tanzania, of the typical social behaviour of chimpanzees as aggressive, dominance seeking, and fiercely territorial. In polar opposition, all reports from naturalistic (non-feeding) field studies are of non-aggressive chimpanzees living peacefully in non-hierarchical groups, on home ranges open to all. These reports have been ignored and downgraded by most of the scientific community. By utilising the data from these studies the author is able to construct a model of an egalitarian form of social organisation, based on a fluid role relationship of mutual dependence between many charismatic chimpanzees of both sexes and other more dependent members. This highly and necessarily positive mutual dependence system is characteristic of both (undisturbed) chimpanzees and (undisturbed) humans who live by the 'immediate-return' foraging system.


A. Montagu
Part IMethods and Prefatory Explanations
Part IIThe Human Foragers
Part IIIThe Changing Social Order
Part IVThe Behaviour of Wild and Provisioned Groups: A Theoretical Analysis
Part VThe Mutual Dependence System
Part VIThe Egalitarian Chimpanzees
Part VIIProbabilities, Possibilities and Half-Heard Whispers

Review by Choice Review

Using published evidence from both naturalistic and provisioning field studies, Power proposes that current views of chimps as extremely aggressive, dominance-seeking, competitive, and territorial are a result of recent qualitative changes in their behavior and organization due to outside influences, e.g., provisioning. The author's thesis is that natural chimpanzee social organization is actually highly egalitarian, and is based upon mutual dependence; peaceful, open groups lacking dominance hierarchy or territoriality are the rule. The model is also extended to human foraging societies. Although many may take exception to the conclusions of the author, the book should be useful to a broad range of readers interested in human and nonhuman primate social organization and its evolution.-S. D. Stout, University of Missouri Columbia

Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.

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