Book Reviews

Social Dominance : An Intergroup Theory of Social Hierarchy and Oppression
by Jim Sidanius (Author), Felicia Pratto (Author)

Product Details

If you are a liberal-minded person who has held compassionate perspectives for most of your life, you most likely have been horrified by the amount of oppression in all human societies that you have studied and been exposed to in the media. How can human cruelties and violence shown by one group of people against other groups of people not only exist, but also seem to flourish and be sanctioned by some governments?  How can it exist when all condemn its practice?  What props it up? What keeps it going? What social and biological sense keeps it alive?

This is a social science textbook that answers such questions.  What this book accomplishes is to firmly attach citations and specific names to various group behaviors you have witnessed and may have always known existed around you for decades but could not articulate and categorizes them properly within a scientific context.  Social Dominance will bring into clear focus such group behaviors as racial, class, economic, gender, and age discriminations and the possible physical violence that could flow from these discriminations.  The major appeal of this textbook is that if you understand and absorb the book, you will grasp the underlying motivation of social group behavior in 2002; it identifies the motivational bricks that form the biological and social foundations upon which all human societies are built. The benefit from this is that upon understanding the basic causes, policy makers can then make decisions that create positive social change.

Although the book is written from a social psychological perspective, those who are members of the Human Behavior and Evolution Society, followers of Frans de Waal and other primotologists, regular readers of evolutionary behavioral based books, and regular visitors to this web site should find that transforming the major points of the book into an evolutionary perspective relatively easy and, in fact, be stunned by its easy placement within that perspective.  The authors do touch upon one evolutionary theory (The theory considered in Social Dominance  would not be considered correct by the majority of the evolutionary community in 2002) in one of four past and current grouped overview theories, but that only covers two pages of the 403-paged book.

The book's main thread is the argument that there is a predisposition amongst humans to form groups along hierarchical lines and that these groups tend to fall into two categories, dominate and subordinate, with a large section of the middle population attempting to assimilate into the dominate hierarchy because of the advantages this attachment carries.  The authors argue that there is "a grammar of social power" shared by all societies, or in other words, mental mechanisms, that cultural anthropologists would call "universals" of shared behaviors; these shared behaviors of all human populations, of course, evolved from the same human brain shared by our ancestors that were forged in the EEA (Environment of Evolutionary Adaptedness -- the period from 1.6 million to about 10,000 years ago when domestication of plants and animals began [farming].

The book then lays out its arguments in four crisp and decisive chapters and opens with a graphic statement from an 18 year old Muslim Bosnian woman on her revelation on being repeatedly raped by Serbian warriors; the authors then proceed to ask

Despite tremendous effort and what appear to be our best efforts stretching over hundreds of years, discrimination, oppression, brutality, and tyranny remain all too common features of the human condition.  Far from having escaped the grip of human ugliness in the civil rights revolutions of the 1960s, we seem only to have increased the overall level of chaos, confusion, and intergroup truculence during the post-civil rights era and the resolution of the cold war.  We see signs of this brutality and oppression all around us, from the streets of Los Angeles and Brooklyn to the hills of Bosnia and the forests of Rwanda. Rather than resolving the problems of intergroup hostility, we merely appear to stumble from viciousness to viciousness. Why?  p. 3. [Please note: all direct quotes from the book are in Italics].

Before Sidanius and Pratto attempt to argue their all-encompassing social dominance theory, they wisely recall the most prominent theories to date regarding group inequality and divide them in four major headings with the theories listed in order of importance.  I feel that it is important to set the tone of this review by closely listing them below:

·        Psychological Theories

            The Frustration-Aggression Hypothesis -- formulated by a group of Yale social scientists, the theory suggests that aggression towards less powerful people resulted from frustration at not achieving highly desired goals and that aggression toward more powerful people would be considered quite dangerous, (like one's boss), and as a result, aggression would entail less danger of a resulting backlash if one's aggression would be directed at groups of people below one's hierarchical standing.

            Authoritarian Personality Theory (APT) -- arguing under the banner that there is a personality syndrome labeled authoritarianism, social scientists in the 1950s argued that APT resulted from child-rearing practices that humiliated and deprecated the child (corporate punishment) and predicated parental affection on the child's immediate and unquestioning obedience to the parents.  This kind of subjugating environment was thought to predispose children toward thinking of human relations in terms of dominance and submission and to teach a particular orientation toward hierarchy; the vilification of those thought of as weak, humane, or deviate (e.g. ethnic minorities), and the glorification of those perceived to be strong and powerful (John Wayne, Ronald Reagan, The Marlboro Man, etc.).  As such, authoritarians were hypothesized to hold conservative economic and political views, and also be generally xenophobic, racist, and ethnocentric. p. 6.

            Psychological Uncertainty and Anxiety Models -- theory that fear of the uncertain creates preference for safe and conventional vocations, fear of death, and dislike of ambiguous art, which tends to enhance conservatism.   Another theory stemming from this fear ethos is the terror management theory (TMT). TMT predicts that people find those with different cultural world views existentially threatening and are motivated either to assimilate their views, to convert them, or to derogate or even exterminate them, all in an effort to restore the cultural anxiety buffer. p. 9.

            Value and Value Conflict Theories -- Theories that emerge from attempting to understand people's attitudes and beliefs about politics, outgroups, and social policies by examining people's underlying values, or the priorities given to basic principles of attitudes and beliefs that relate to both freedom and equality (emphasis mine).  Research has shown that the importance one attaches to freedom is unrelated to one's political leanings, although equality values are quite influential.  Supporters of left-wing political parties and policies place much greater emphasis on the value of equality than do supporters of right-wing political parties.  The value of equality has been found to be not only extremely important in determining people's political ideologies and party preference, but also quite important in determining attitudes toward specific policies (e.g. affirmative action). p. 10.

            Social-Cognitive Approach to Stereotyping -- The underlining theories emerging from stereotyping is that social stereotypes should first and foremost be seen as the result of basic and entirely normal information processing.  (This comes from 1954 -- think separate, but equal water fountains).  In 1976, scientists theorized that people learn stereotypes because of a predisposition to perceive associations among events.  In particular, they reasoned that people perceive relatively unusual negative traits or behaviors and relatively unusual people, such as ethnic minorities as going together, resulting in negative group stereotypes. stigma increases psychological salience, this would then explain why these negative features and stigmatized social groups become associated in the mind. p. 11.

            The Facile Activation of Social Stereotypes -- Based on evidence that people learn covariations very easily, and even unconsciously....[then]....once learned, social stereotypes are then quite easily and facilely activated. p. 12.

            Stereotypes as Causal Explanations -- Very similar to above, except driven by the need to explain and understand the behavior of others who belong to a variety of social groups. In 1972, scientists argued that when certain social groups disproportionately perform certain roles within the social system, people come to assume that all individuals within these groups have personal characteristics consistent with those roles.  (e.g., illegal Mexican immigrants in dishwasher and car wash roles in America).  This suggest that when people make internal attributes to explain behavior attached to a role in society, they are likely to come up with a stereotype they already know as an explanation.. p. 12 & 13.

            The Contextual Sensitivity of Stereotypes -- In 1984, studies showed that when people's outcomes were positively linked with those of a stranger, they paid more attention to individuating features of the person and relied less on stereotypes to form an impression of that person.  In 1993, a scientist argued that people in positions of power, which is more typical of dominant group members, are unlikely to have to pay more attention to subordinates, and so are especially likely to stereotype.  Thus, power inequalities are particularly likely to contribute to stereotyping. p. 13.

            The Tenacity and Self-Fulfilling Character of Social Stereotypes -- Research has shown that stereotypes are often quite robust, tenacious, and long-lived.  In fact, with the admission of tokens (e.g., women in a male-dominated profession) this tenacity persists because people are more likely to make internal rather than situational attributions for the actions of these tokens.  Stereotypes not only can provoke self-confirming behavior in stereotyped others, but also can bias memory in ways that get people to recall sterotype-confirming "evidence." p. 13 & 14.

Unlike the psychological models above that human's focus on with the internal thought process (the "nature" end of human nature), the next section covered is the social-psychological behaviors of individuals as they begin to construct the "nurture" part of their world.  These include the behaviors that develop the as the individual tries to connect to, and become deeply embedded with, the absorption of cultural norms.  Also influencing the individual is the strong desire to "fit in" and become accepted in the community.

·        Social-Psychological Theories

            Socialization and Social Learning Theories -- This approach of study assumes that the primary reason that individuals exhibit hostile, racist, and discriminatory behaviors toward others is because, from early childhood on, they have been socialized and trained to feel and behave this way. p. 15.

            Modern Racism Theories -- Despite vast changes in attitudes toward blacks in American, most social scientists are in agreement that even though blatant and extreme forms or racism against African-Americans are now relegated to the past, more subtle and indirect forms of racism remain.  In particular, research has now focused on the principle-implementation gap, or the apparent contradiction between White Americans' expressed support for the principle of racial equality and their consistent opposition to the implementation of any concrete policies that might actually promote racial equality in practice. p. 16.

            Realistic Group Conflict Theory -- This is really important because it comes very close to the evolutionary theories in vogue today about in- and out-group conflict seen in chimpanzees today and most likely evolved from our primal ancestors.  RGCT is the perception that one group's gain is another's loss and translates into perceptions of group threat, which in turn causes prejudice against the outgroups, negative stereotyping of the outgroups, ingroup solidarity, awareness of ingroup identity, and internal cohesion, including intolerance of ingroup deviants (let me also add punishment of those deviants), ethnocentrism, use of group boundary markers, and discriminatory behavior. p. 17.

            Social Identity Theory (SIT) -- The theory argues that humans have a general desire for positive social identity.  When it is unclear what the meaning of the minimal group membership is, they construct the meaning to be positive so that it can reflect well on themselves.  They do so by presuming their group's superiority and by allocating more to ingroups than to outgroups.  This suggests that the more stable group boundaries are perceived to be, the more members of different groups will discriminate against each other.  (Think of this in terms of the gap between a very rich neighborhood and a very poor one).  This also argues that group conflict is likely to be minimized when both the superior and inferior groups accept the legitimacy of the status distinction between them.  (In this last respect, the more minorities accept the legitimacy of the elites rule, the less conflict there will be, and vice versa).  SIT regards power as an instance of social status.....studies have shown that power is more important than the degree of group identification or group status in predicting intergroup discrimination. p. 19.  But one of the most important points to make is that low-status groups often acknowledge the superiority of high-status groups with respect to the high-status dimension and often discriminate in favor of high-status groups rather than in favor of their own low-status groups. p. 20.  This is very important because if we mention a few famous people that can be identified as "minorities," such as, Clarence Thomas, Ward Connerlly, Linda Chavez, (in Colorado -- Rita Montero, supporter of Amendment 31 in 2002), this concept becomes crystal clear.  Subordinates deny their origins as "hopeless" vehicles of advancement and "attach" themselves to the dominates in hopes of obtaining a better life for their children.  (In my own evolutionary writings, this is what I have called Origin Denial, Resource Re-alignment).  Sidanius and Pratto touch upon this behavior again on page 44 where they call it asymmetrical ingroup bias.  They describe this group thought process as so strong that subordinates actually favor the company of dominants over their own ingroups.

In the series above, focus was on individual motivation and cognitive processes, but in the next set of theories, social-structure and elite theories, emphasis is placed upon  relationships that groups have with each other, and in essence, elite theories argue that social systems are hierarchically and oligarchically organized and disproportionately controlled by a small group of people who are variously labeled as a ruling class, a ruling elite, oligarchs, or dominants. p. 22.

·        Social-Structural and Elite Theories

            Group Position Theory -- The group position model asserts that when groups are in a state of power inequality or power imbalance, the more powerful groups will endeavor to maintain their position over less powerful groups. Powerful groups will do so by promoting social attitudes and policies that advantage themselves.p.21.

            Marxism -- complex --  but here in a nutshell is the theory: Social dominates own technology but "exploit" workers to use this technology to produce economic surpluses that go back to the dominants which is then unevenly distributed.  Because those who own capital have a major advantage over those who sell labor, these owners are able to structure economic transactions in ways that almost always benefit themselves at the cost of the workers. p. 21.  This income inequality gap, Marx theorized, creates a "struggle" between the two classes where eventually a "revolt" would occur.    (A "revolution" did occur, but one hierarchy was merely replaced by another, producing the same unequal distribution of resources with an illusion or promise of resource distribution).

            The Neoclassical Elite Approach -- the basic assumption that whatever the manifest content of political discourse, all social systems are inherently undemocratic and are ruled by a small elite who rationalize their power by use of some system of justifying ideologies.  Instead of declaring that they rule because they simply want to rule, members of the ruling class argue that their rule is based on and justified by notions such as "divine right," assertions of their political expertise, or allusions to "the popular will."  Because of its controls over both private and public organizations and institutions of the state, an organized minority will almost always triumph over a disorganized majority. p. 23.  

The theory covered is the old, 'neo-social-Darwinistic' model that teaches us that the elites in our society are there because they possess the physiological and behavioral attributes that allow them to survive over time.  Several critics have decried the misuse of this evolutionary perspective promoting the idea that certain classes, races, or genders of people are "superior" in general, and are more "fit" than others so that social inequalities appear justified by science and nature. p. 28.  And that criticism is 100% correct.  In the last few years, greater emphasis has been placed on a complicated combination of understanding human behavior from a combination of "nature and nurture" with about 55% to 60% of the scale tipped toward "nurture;" the differences are then "tweaked" to match the exact longitude and latitude on the planet to match the cultural social norms found there (which has a great affect on emotional norms).  As such, the new synthesis is causing excitement (non-published communications between colleagues) because it fits in all models, both biological and social

Ok, now that Sidanius and Pratto have summarized the classical theories of social behavior, they now attempt to integrate these insights into one coherent and comprehensive theoretical model which they call Social Dominance Theory (SDT).  (And, as I mentioned above, the most likely outcome of this synthesis, is that their theory will be "swallowed," absorbed, and integrated into the very recent evolutionary perspective, which is an even larger fish).  As they tell us, their neither strictly a psychological nor a sociological theory, but rather an attempt to connect the worlds of individual personality and attitudes with the domains of institutional behavior and social structure. p. 31.

SDT begins with the basic observation that all human societies tend to be structured as systems of group-based social hierarchies, and that, the dominant group is characterized by its possession of a disproportionately large share of positive social value, or all those material and symbolic things for which people strive. p. 31

The authors then lay out the advantages that would motivate people toward this positive social value, and why they would move away from a negative social value:

·      Positive Social Value
Political authority and power
Good and plentiful food
Splendid homes
The best available heath care
High social status

·        Negative Social Value
Low power and social status
High-risk and low-status occupations
Relatively poor health care
Poor food
Modest or miserable homes
Severe negative sanctions (e.g., prison and death sentences). p. 32.

I think that the motivating forces at work here can be safely summed up by remembering the poster titled POVERTY SUCKS.  For those of you not old enough to remember this photographic classic dated from 1979, it pictures a physically "soft" (someone who obviously has not done manual labor all their life) male in his mid-thirties, attired in a polo outfit, standing in front of a Rolls-Royce limousine.  The Rolls-Royce is parked in front of a building that represents the "welfare office;" there is a champagne bucket on the bumper of the Rolls, and the male has a glass of champagne in his hand; he has a very smug and contended look on his face as he stares out to us visually sending the message printed below the photo.  Every bit of the image conveys positive social value (Or at least, those “things” that humans think will bring them happiness).

After making the observation that all human social systems are group-based hierarchies, the authors then enter the most important stage of their theory: How the social dominance theory maintains itself through various mechanisms.  Sidanius and Pratto then discuss Group-Based versus Individual-Based Social hierarchies.  In an individual based hierarchy, the person enjoys high ranking in a hierarchy based solely on his or her own ability: e.g. artistic, musical, political, athletic, mathematical, or scientific abilities.  Although not mentioned in the book, one must reach the conclusion based on statistics alone, these people (like Oprah, Billy Graham, Andy Warhol, Albert Einstein, or Bill Gates) are extremely rare.  If this is reality, then how do the vast majority of successful people get to the top of their respective hierarchies?  The authors lead us to the obvious explanation by teaching us about group-based hierarchies in which one's position is based on individual abilities plus the ascribed membership in groups based on race, religion, clan, tribe, lineage, linguistic/ethnic group, or social class.  Below is an example of the power of group-based hierarchies: (pay attention, this is important).

For example, two children may both have the same level of native talent, individual drive, and personal ambition.  However, if one child is of the upper class, has ambitious and well-connected parents, and attends the "right" schools, the chances are that this child will do quite well in life.  On the other hand, for the other child growing up in an impoverished, dangerous, and sociogenic neighborhood and afflicted with inferior schools, chances are that the child will not do quite as well in life.  This, of course, is simply to state the obvious.  Even in modern, democratic, and multigroup societies, the achieved component of social status is, to a very significant degree, dependent on the social status and power of one's ascribed group membership. p. 32 & 33.

[A quick note to liberals: Now can you understand the forces behind some ethnic groups calling for school vouches and the creation of charter schools.  These last four paragraphs should give you a good understanding of the forces that are at work behind the impetus in "creating" a system that mimics the dominate culture that processes positive social value.  Minorities/submissives truly believe that "acting" like the dominate culture will bring them the same benefits for their children as it as does for the dominates -- and the unfortunate side of this tale is that the dominates "know" this impetus exists (through a long history of  eliminating choice amongst the submissives — i.e., union busting, etc.) and they "mentor" this thought process along.  But, here’s the “gotcha clause,” –  I argue that the dominates will only consider financial support of “minority groups” unless they get to keep control of the purse strings in the mentoring process -- or use the support system as a pressuring device to influence policy of the submissive group.  It would the group behavior equivalent to "Parental Control," -- and upon close inspection behind the scenes, one would most likely find males (patriarchy) as head of this "family"].

The next factor to consider in the book’s Social Dominance Theory and how the system maintains and supports itself is The Trimorphic Structure of Group-Based Social Hierarchy.  This is based on the overall observations by scientists that human groupings consist of three distinct stratifications:

·        An age system -- in which adults and middle-age people have disproportionate social power over children and younger adults.

·        A gender system -- in which males have disproportionate social and political power compared with females (patriarchy).

·        Arbitrary-set system -- The arbitrary-set system is filled with socially constructed and highly salient groups based on characteristics such as clan, ethnicity, estate, nation, race, caste, social class, religious sect, regional grouping, or any other socially relevant groups distinction that the human imagination is capable of constructing.  In such systems, one group is materially and/or politically dominant over the other. p. 33.

It is this last discriminatory structure in which we find the greatest degree of viciousness found in human history discussed in the opening of this review.  Although, women and children have been discriminated in various degrees throughout history, the level of "barbarism" and bloodlust is mostly leveled at this arbitrary-set system.

This now leads us to the basic assumptions of their social dominance theory in which the authors have divided into three major parts: pp. 38 & 39.

1.      While age-and gender-based hierarchies will tend to exist within all social systems, arbitrary-set systems of social hierarchy will invariably emerge within social systems producing sustainable economic surplus.

2.      Most forms of group conflict and oppression (e.g., racism, ethnocentrism, sexism, nationalism, classism, and regionalism) can be regarded as different manifestations of the same basic human predisposition to form group-based social hierarchies. Here's an important footnote to this section -- pay attention -- ...phenomena such as prejudice, racism, stereotypes, and discrimination simply cannot be understood outside the conceptual framework of group-based social hierarchies, especially within social systems of economic surplus. (The underlined emphasis is mine).  It has been my strong position for several years now that the basis of modern political motivation swirls around the preference for, the attainment of, and constant maintenance of, resources by group identity.  In the most recent evolutionary theories, the meaning of resources produces a broad brush stroke over all human behaviors, but can be nicely summed up as: anything --that includes biological mechanisms or social interaction -- that will advance one's gene's into the next generation.  Yep. Even before physical resources, the motivating force behind most of our adult actions is the very basic biological drive to have sex with a mate and pass our genes.  Geoffrery Miller's famous 2000 book, The Mating Mind (among evolutionists), describes these "things" in terms of Peacock feathers -- they are the excesses that we gather around us to attract the best possible mate choice that we can find -- both male and female.  That includes whiter teeth, broader shoulders, a "six-pack" abdomen, a systematical face, a body that would fit in Victoria Secret's underwear, a large house in the "right neighborhood," a bank account that would sink a ship, multiple academic diplomas, a creative wit, multilingual skills, the ability to tell jokes, or anything -- anything that could advance one's position in a particular hierarchy, which in turn, helps to create the allure to attract MR/MS right.

3.      Human social systems are subject to the counterbalancing influences of hierarchy-enhancing (HE) forces, producing and maintaining ever higher levels of group-based social inequality, and hierarchy-attenuationg (HA) forces, producing greater levels of group-based social equality.  This last section of their social dominance theory is, in very simple terms, the descriptive “struggle" that various social scientists have argued about that they see occurring between the very rich and the poor.  In evolutionary terms, scientists see this "conflict" in terms of Alpha males dominating a tribe or clan, and the Beta and Charlie males and females attempting to gain access to the resources that they control.  In November 2002 political terms, the Republican hierarchies, which want to maintain ever higher levels of group inequality -- HE -- could be seen as winning a momentary victory over their Democratic opponents who can be seen as a force as attempting to create equality -- HA -- by taking those resources away from the dominates and distributing them for the common good.  The good news for liberals: the human mind which was formed in the EEA (see paragraph four), is based on the hunter-gatherer nomadic tribe principle that their group could not survive unless all shared resources with each other -- A kind of United We Stand, Divided We Fall -- kind of philosophy; of course, conservatives in 2002 believe that the great unlearned and unwashed -- that's us -- could not survive without their benevolence, guidance, and "trickledown-ness."

 A good way to sum up the three points just covered by the authors is on page 39:

 A perusal of recorded history across all known non-hunter-gatherer societies testifies to clear and sometimes extreme levels of group-based social inequality.  The relatively recent system of chattel slavery in the United States is perhaps one of the most brutal examples in human history.  Group-based social inequality is often directly produced by the unequal distribution of social value (both positive and negative) [Once again recall, Sidanius and Pratto equate "social value" as I equate to "resources."] to various groups within the social system.  This unequal distribution of social value is, in turn, justified and defended by use of various social ideologies, beliefs, myths, and religious doctrines.

*   *  *

It is at this point that I am going to leave the detailed review of this fascinating book because it now goes into detail HOW these various ideologies, beliefs, myths, and religious doctrines provide the veneer of social justice and advancement while actually perpetuating the inequalities that lead to discriminations and, could ultimately lead to, the "bloodlust" oppression mentioned at the beginning of this book.  I am leaving the review at this point to motivate and excite you enough to learn more – because, what lies ahead is the proof; the evidence; the citations you need to continue the debate needed to help others advance our societies; and more importantly, help our species to evolve to a higher level of mental capacity.  And after all, I want you to get up off your butt and go out and purchase this book because that is the way you can help support and contribute to helping scientists advance our society for the better.

 You may not believe this, but I have only reviewed the first of four parts, and some sections of the second chapter of this book; there are three more parts and eight more chapters to cover; I will give you a peek at some of the items yet to come.

In Part II, the book covers: Oppression and Its Psychological-Ideological Elements; Chapter 3 covers, "The Psychology of Group Dominance: Social Dominance Orientation; Chapter 4 covers, '"Let's Both Agree That You're Really Stupid"': The Power of Consensual Ideology. 

In Part III, Sidanius and Pratto lead us to: The Circle of Oppression: The Myriad Expressions of Institutional Discrimination; Chapter 5, '"You Stay in Your Part of Town, and I'll Stay in Mine"': Discrimination in the Housing and Retail Markets; Chapter 6, '"They're Just Too Lazy to Work"': Discrimination in the Labor Market; Chapter 7, '"They're Just Mentally and Physically Unfit"': Discrimination in Education and Health Care; Chapter 8, '"The More of 'Them' in Prison, the Better"': Institutional Terror, Social Control, and the Dynamics of the Criminal Justice System. 

In Part IV, the authors guide us to, what I consider to be, one of the most important chapters in the book: Oppression as a Cooperative Game; Chapter 9, Social Hierarchy and Asymmetrical Group Behavior; Chapter 10, Sex and Power: The Intersecting Political Psychologies of Patriarchy and Arbitrary-Set Hierarchy.  The textbook then concludes with the Epilogue, from which, I want to conclude with one important quote:

We have focused on the problems of inequality for two major reasons.  First, it is exactly because we would like to see societies with democratic and egalitarian pretensions actually live up to these ideals that we have been so focused on trying to better understand why the achievement of equality appears to be so mind-numbingly difficult. Second, we hope that by directing scientific attention on this problem, group dominance will be recognized for what it is. Calling social dominance by more palatable names, pretending that it is only a feature of other people's societies, assuming that it is merely a dying legacy of the past not only are exercises in self-delusion, but also contribute to the tenacity of group dominance by obfuscating its very existence, and thereby making it that much more difficult to change. p. 309.

As I wrote in the opening of this review, the theories presented in Social Dominance help to identify the motivational bricks that form the biological and social foundations upon which all human societies are built.  They have cleared my vision and thought process and answered many questions that I have anguished over for many years.  This book has made a tremendous impact on my thought process and has become a part of my soul; as a result, it quickly goes to the top of my recommended reading list on this web site.  But also remember this: this is a book about the way our human societies are -- it does not even begin to provide solutions as what to do about them.  Attempts have been made, no doubts, but they have failed to achieve their lofty goals; in fact, we find ourselves politically in 2002, perched on a slippery slope, threatening to take us back down the evolutionary hill in intergroup behaviors.

Although I highly recommend the book because of what I learned, it is somewhat of a difficult read for the common person because of the dry, scientific, and precise form of writing; as such, I have placed it in my Level Two Recommended Readings.

Click here to learn more or purchase from

 Copyright, Evolution's Voyage, 1995 - 2011