CRITIQUE: Hierarchy and Status Project

This response submitted by Corinne Mehas, Michael Pateman ( at 5:54 pm on 3/8/00. Additions were last made on Wednesday, May 7, 2014. Section: Myers.

1. Hypothesis: Clear and not too obvious?

For your project you do not state your hypothesis directly and separately from the proposal, but it is broadly outlined in your last sentence. By reading over the proposal and synthesizing your theories and the main concepts provided by the proposal it is clear that you want to test whether there is a higher level of satisfaction felt by those living in Egalitarian communities. You could definitely whittle down that hypothesis, to determine what exactly about an egalitarian society makes it preferable to hierarchical ones. There is also talk within your proposal of the subjugation women endure as the ìlower rungî on a hierarchal ladder; is your hypothesis designed to question their role in each society as well?

2. Feasibility of Project: Will this data answer the hypothesis?

You have not specifically incorporated a survey into your proposal, and therefore your methods are left somewhat undefined. Because of this it is not entirely possible to ascertain the feasibility of this project. You want to give a survey to develop and collect your data, which is a useful and qualitative way to draw conclusions about your subject and hypothesis. Distributing the survey to Miami student body should present no difficulty at all, and will give you an interesting insight into whether or not MU kids even think to question how they feel about living in a status/power driven society. You also propose to travel to a commune, which will likely be an interesting place for investigation. The questions may be whether it will be difficult to gain access to the commune, and whether people living there will regard your surveying as an intrusion or as a useful way to express their ideas about commune society. Depending on the questions the survey will give you a good chance to answer your hypothesis.

3. Theoretically Grounded?

Yes. You made some important connections with Riane Eisler, author of The Chalice and The Blade, and incorporated her theories on hierarchical societies. Perhaps you should try and find some theories that disprove Eislerís points, as this may enhance the strengths and weakness of this topic. You sited many sources in your bibliography but included only one of them (Eisler) in you proposal. It will be interesting to see whether all of your research materials support your hypothesis. It might also be beneficial to research an Anthropologistís point of view into this topic, because you will be able to find information on human (and primate) societies with egalitarity between the sexes.

4. Course Connection?

Your topic is great because it applies directly to the course and Robert Wright. Wright constantly talks about how society is male dominated, arguing that males seek status in order to become more desirable as mates and more apt to pass on their genes. Your commune that you are planning to visit will be an interesting example that you can use to refute Wrightís argument. How is it evolutionarily advantageous to live without a system of status seeking and hierarchy?

5. Interdisciplinary?
Itís hard to say whether or not your project is interdisciplinary. The project definitely has the potential to be interdisciplinary but your proposal lacks the detail needed to determine this. You are looking at a topic that could be discussed from political, economic, or evolutionary viewpoints. You can also increase the range of disciplines if you pursue your topic from anthropological and feminist viewpoints.

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