Cultural selection discussion

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Regal and Kalyptic distinctions
Author:  Date: 1999-07-07 00:00
I found the idea of r and k selection applying to cultural systems a very interesting one - but found the categories of "regal" and "kalyptic" confusing and rather arbitrary. An example from the JOM paper;

Regal category - perhaps typified by the philosophy: Individuals exist for the benefit of society. Ethnocentrism, racism, material growth, expansion.
Regal Politics - Powerful central government,imperialism, uniformity, intolerance,censorship, severe punishments,witch-hunts.

Kalyptic category - Society exists for the benefit of the individual. Individualism, tolerance, human rights, protection of natural resources.
Kalyptic Politics - Decentralized government,democracy, tolerance, peace.

First of all I fail to see the original r and k strategies within the new cultural categories - but then Agner does say that we should see his distinctions as separate formulations and not analogies.

The problem is then "Do Agner's categories apply for many examples in the real world." I would say - 'no'. For example; Mrs Thatcher (whom I would imagine most would say had very 'Regal' tendancies) famously believed that 'there was no such thing as society' and proceeded to try and restructure society along very individualistic lines which concomitantly produced a very selfish and materialistic society. The suggestion that individualism is necessarily in the same category as tolerance, protection of natural resources or even peace - appears unsupportable.

Ager says; "Generally, you should expect different aspects of a culture to be in reasonable agreement with regard to cultural r/k-status, but it is unlikely that you will find perfect agreement." However, this surely undermines the usefulness of the categorisations as selection strategies within culture. In Biology you will never find an organism which produces thousands of young - yet each have large parental investment or individually consume large amounts of local resources (e.g. by growing to a great size). The r and k strategies withstand examination well - and without the need to fudge the categories.

In conclusion: r and k strategies can be better applied to culture as direct analogies - e.g. an organisation which mail shots a thousand clients with a pamphlet compared to an organisation which knocks on the doors of individuals and invests the time to convert them to a point of view. Agner's Regal and Kalyptic strategies are neither robust nor especially useful - and say more about Agner's political persuasion rather than selection strategies in culture.

thread Regal and Kalyptic distinctions - Nick Rose - 1999-07-07
replythread Regal and Kalyptic distinctions new - Derek Gatherer - 1999-07-08
last replythread Regal and Kalyptic distinctions new - Nick Rose - 1999-07-08
replythread Regal and Kalyptic distinctions new - Agner Fog - 1999-07-10
last reply Regal and Kalyptic distinctions new - Nick Rose - 1999-07-13
last reply Regal and Kalyptic distinctions new - Aaron Agassi - 1999-07-11
last replythread Regal and Kalyptic distinctions new - Aaron Agassi - 1999-07-11
replythread Regal and Kalyptic distinctions new - Agner Fog - 1999-07-12
last reply Moi? new - Aaron Agassi - 1999-07-12
last replythread Regal and Kalyptic distinctions new - Svehla - 2000-06-04
last reply Music and uniformity new - Agner Fog - 2001-04-29