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Accepted Paper:

Dominance, prestige and affect in children's hierarchical relationships in China and the UK  
Anni Kajanus (University of Helsinki)

Paper short abstract:

This paper explores dominance and prestige as distinct bases for high status and the affective responses they elicit. Through a comparative perspective, I explore how children in China and the UK develop an understanding of hierarchical relations and culturally shaped emotional patterns in conflict.

Paper long abstract:

This paper investigates the dynamics of dominance, prestige and affect at the level of interpersonal relations. From an early age, children start to understand status processes in their social environments. Findings of cognitive sciences suggest that the ability to discern hierarchical relationships, as well as the processes of dominance and prestige that give rise to them, is to an extent an evolved cognitive capacity available to all humans. By bringing together approaches from anthropology and psychology, I move towards an understanding of how relations of dominance and subordination emerge in everyday interactions, and how the affective responses at both ends of the power vacuum are simultaneously shaped by the evolved dispositions of our species and cultural-historical processes we are embedded in. I investigate how children in China and the UK develop an understanding of dominance-based and prestige-based status processes, and how they are shaped by culturally specific moral frames that pertain to emotional expression and hierarchy. According to evolutionary models, dominance is grounded on coercion and assertion of power and elicits fear and avoidance in subordinates. Prestige is grounded on merit and pro-sociality, and elicits admiration and imitation in others. But at the level of interpersonal relations, children can become skilled in both processes, and there is cultural variation in the tolerance of dominant affects. More aggression and assertiveness is tolerated in the UK than in China, where high status is intrinsically connected to ability to control emotional impulses.

Panel P145a
Affect and domination in flux [ENPA]
  Session 1 Thursday 28 July, 2022, -