Full text: Ownership as interpersonal dominance

continue to examine the role of status symbolism in marketing and consumption. The use of 
property to communicate territorial dominance has been described within sociology (e.g. 
Goffman, 1971), social psychology (e.g. Becker, 1973) and anthropology (e.g. Renfrew, 1983). 
Finally, ownership as interpersonal dominance has appeared In cross-cultural research, 
The Stoics and early Christians presumed there to have been an egalitarian, communal Golden 
Age, Garden of Eden (Schlatter, 1951). Montesquieu (Lowenthal, 1963) noted that hunting and 
nomadic societies were egalitarian in social relations and in property. Rousseau (Schlatter, 
1951) theorized that specialization of labour in agriculture and technology was the mechanism 
of cultural evolution that transformed egalitarian, communal society into stratified, proprietary 
society. Using increasingly objective methods of comparative ethnography, Hobhouse (1906; 
1922), Sumner, Keller & Davie (1927), and Simmons (1937) have all argued that private property 
Is a social mechanism of interpersonal dominance and social stratification. 
The evidence from historical scholarship that dominance is a component of ownership 
was substantially reinforced by the three social psychological studies. Each of these sampled 
different populations, used different research methods, and were analyzed conservatively. The 
multi-cultural archival research found that dominance, as it is measured by the Leadership 
scale on Gordon's (1976) Survey of Interpersonal Values, is positively correlated across 15 
societies with a positive attitude towards the institution of private property. The multi-sample 
psychological research found that Dominance, as it is measured on Jackson's (1967/1984) 
Personality Research Form, is positively correlated with own having more of a meaning of 
dominion (claim, control, keep) and that Abasement, the opposite of Dominance in the higher 
order personality factor of ascendence (Jackson, 1967/1984), is positively correlated with own 
having more of a meaning of stewardship (manage, deserve, be familiar with, plan, share). 
Finally, in the cross-cultural field research comparing the meaning of own in two cultures that 
differ in their appreciation and practice of interpersonal dominance, it was found that dominion 
(claim, control, keep) is not a coherent semantic component of own for the Cree and that own 
takes on more of a meaning of need, want, and deserve. 
Thus, the historical evidence and the three thesis studies do converge in their support of 
the hypothesis that ownership entails interpersonal dominance. The revival and reconfirmation 
of this argument within psychology is important because the social nature of possession and 
ownership tends to become minimized and obscured, as noted in the opening quotations by

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