Full text: Ownership as interpersonal dominance

occupation and defense of territory seem in many respects analogous to the ownership. of 
property. Edney (1974) examined 14 definitions of territoriality and found the component 
concepts to be space, defense, possession, identity, markers, personalization, control, and 
exclusive use. These could easily be a listing of the component concepts of definitions of 
property. Altman’s (1970) definition was most inclusive and clearly subsumes the owning of 
Human territoriality encompasses temporarily durable preventive and reactive behaviors 
including perceptions, use and defense of places, people, objects, and ideas by means of 
verbal, self-marker, and environmental prop behaviors in response to the actual or implied 
presence of others and in response to properties of the environment, and is geared to 
satisfy certain primary and secondary motivational states of individuals and groups. 
(Altman, 1970, p. 8) 
Here, territorial control of objects and ideas would seem little different from proprietary control 
of objects and ideas. 
The definition of territoriality by Sack (1983), a geographer, moves the purpose of 
territoriality from control of territory to control of objects, people and their relations: 
At this point let me define what | mean by territoriality explicitly: the attempt by an 
individual or group (x) to influence, affect, or control objects, people, and relationships (vy) 
by delimiting and asserting control over a geographic area. (Sack, 1983, p. 56) 
Whereas Brown (1965) emphasized the high cognitive demands of a dominance hierarchy 
(identifying one’s own species, then sex within the species, then individual superiors and 
subordinates), Sack (1983; 1986) emphasized the cognitive efficiencies of territoriality: it avoids 
enumeration of the possessions and activities to be controlled; it is easy to communicate by 
boundary markers and at the same time efficiently enforces control at the boundary; it reifies 
power and makes it tangible; it displaces attention from interpersonal power differences and 
makes them impersonal; it controls complex activities within territories; it reifies activities within 
a space and allows attributions of agency and personality to a space. 
Animal ethologists and sociobiologists have traditionally linked hierarchical dominance 
and territoriality as correlative systems of intraspecies control (e.g. Wilson, 1975). Many 
psychological studies have shown a correlation between dominance and territoriality. Most of 
these have been studies of captive male populations. Edney (1974) has reviewed these studies, 
giving an appropriate caution against generalizing from special sub-populations of males 
confined in close, supervised settings. 
Blood and Livant (1957) reported that young boys in a summer camp spaced their beds 
according to friendships while boys over 10 spaced them according to dominance hierarchy.

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