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Ancestral Landscapes in Human EvolutionCulture, Childrearing and Social Wellbeing$
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Darcia Narvaez, Kristin Valentino, Agustin Fuentes, James J. McKenna, and Peter Gray

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780199964253

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199964253.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 30 July 2021

Play Theory of Hunter-Gatherer Egalitarianism

Play Theory of Hunter-Gatherer Egalitarianism

(p.192) 8 Play Theory of Hunter-Gatherer Egalitarianism
Ancestral Landscapes in Human Evolution

Peter Gray

Oxford University Press

Social play requires that players adopt an egalitarian attitude, because domination by one will lead others to quit. Across animal species there appears to be a correlation between amount of social play and egalitarian life style. Hunter-gatherer cultures are the most egalitarian of all human cultures, and they also appear to be the most playful. The primary thesis presented here is that hunter-gatherers more or less deliberately cultivate the playful side of their human nature in order to maintain the egalitarian attitude necessary to cooperate and share as intensively as they must for their way of life. This thesis is developed through examining the playfulness of hunter-gatherer games, religious practices, productive work, approaches to correcting those who have violated a norm, and approach to childhood education.

Keywords:   hunter-gatherers, play, playfulness, teasing, egalitarianism, cooperation, dominance hierarchies

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