Full text: Ownership as interpersonal dominance

Certainly, none has examined the semantics of ownership using such psycholinguistic methods 
as free-recall (e.g. Orasanu, Lee & Scribner, 1979; Thomas & Bolton, 1979), word sorting (e.g. 
Miller, 1969; Rapoport & Fillenbaum, 1972; Takane, 1980; Wagener & Pohl, 1986), or scaled 
similarity judgements. Although quantificational research cannot obviate criticisms of 
ideological or cultural bias, it has the virtue of making methods, observations, and inferences 
explicit and replicable. 
In cross-cultural research, the cultures to be compared should be selected for specific 
reasons, not just opportunistic availability (Faucheux, 1976). In the present study, availability 
was a factor, as was the potential to contribute to political economic debate and to native land 
claims. However, the Cree were selected for comparison with English-Canadians primarily 
because these two groups represent societies which differ in the degree to which they value 
interpersonal dominance. As will be discussed, the Cree are an egalitarian, unstratified people 
in comparison to English-Canadians. As research comparison groups, the Cree and 
English-Canadians have the added advantage of facing We same legal system of property law, 
thus reducing the potency of property law as an explanation of any differences in property 
concepts. The comparison of Cree and English-Canadians might also be considered a “strong” 
test of an hypothesis of differences between egalitarian and stratified peoples since the two 
groups have been in cultural contact for more than two centuries and now face the same legal 
system. These conditions allow the opportunity for cultural convergence and a decrease in the 
probability of finding differences. If owning does reflect interpersonal dominance, then 
ownership for the Cree should have relatively less of a meaning of dominion and perhaps more 
of a meaning of possession, acquisition, attachment, stewardship, or covetousness, if indeed 
these characteristics of ownership are valid and universal. 
The Cree are a sub-arctic, hunting-gathering, Algonkian people, residing primarily in 
northern Quebec and Ontario. Further westward, Cree may be known as Ojicree or Plains Cree. 
They have been the subject of numerous ethnographic studies.(5) The traditional Cree lifestyle 
(5) For example, Brightman, 1981; Cox, 1970; Drage, 1982; Dunning, 1959; Hallowell, 1949; Hanks, 
1982; Hoffman, 1961; Honigmann, 1948; 1953; 1956; 1958; 1968; 1981; Judd, 1982; Kehoe, 1980; 
Knight, 1969; Landes, 1937; Molohon, 1982; Preston, 1975; Rogers, 1965; 1963; Rossignol, 
1939: Scott. 1982: Skinner. 1911: Speck, 1915a.b: 1923: 1928; Stallcop, 1972; Turner, 1977.

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