Re-state Assumptions (2/26/11)

With all these posts it can be a little tough to pull out the main themes. This is a checkpoint to restate the framework approach that unifies these posts.

Group Set Framework:

1) Human beings have an evolved predisposition for group formation:

  • Original motivations were for survival, and competition against other tribes
  • Groups can take many forms, and while original grouping behavior occurred in the form of families, tribes and villages. The modern social structure has allowed for a massive network of overlapping groups along multiple identifiable dimension

2) The defining principles of a group can be roughly defined as a set of ideas, attitudes, norms that are gated by an internally enforced set of barriers to entry, status reward/recognition systems, and method for social punishment.’

  • Whereas the gene is the design subunit of biological organisms. The “meme” can be seen as the cultural subunit of groups.

3) Existing groups become a part of the identify of an individual.

  • Individual identity can be represented as a set of group identities.
  • Individuals assume the collective identity and often express the values of the group as their own.

4)  Groups can exert various forms of power and influence between groups, and on their membership.

  • This power can be coercive; using physical force or threat.
  • Compensatory, where people are employed or provided social capital in the form of status for various types of service, or
  • Hegemonic where individuals serve the group in the spirit of their own personal interest (regardless of whether this is “intentional” manipulation or emergent behavior)

5)  Groups clash when central values are challenged, and along with them, the identities and “realities of the individuals”. Often times the basic meme propagation of a group includes the specific denigration of another group

6) Groups contain a body of mythology articulating the following precepts (analyze sports speeches, politics, commencement)

  • Origin myths about how the groups started including legacy and history
  • Challenges that the group faces in terms of obstacles that must be overcome,
  • Reasons why this group is better than others
  • Core values and principles/rules
  • History of oppression where the group has been repeatedly wronged by others
  • Some sort of inherent superiority, based in the core values or

Meme Set Framework

1) Ideas, norms, values, customes, behaviors can be considered units of culture called memes.

2) Memes spread virally through various communication media between humans through imitation.

3) Memes have polarity which can be repulsive or attractive with other memes.

4) Shared memes can serve as a nucleation point for group formation. Whereas new groups can form from shared memes, or adopted memes can lead new members to join a group.


Putting these two sets together we now have a framework for looking at the evolutionary pressures of the values and practices of organizations and how these ideas spread between people, and determine the identities and motivation of members.


About livingthememe

engineer and armchair philosopher
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