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The Impact of Human Nature on Social Stratification: Why do we unite in social groups?

By Esma Gumberidze
Thursday, July 17
Human beings are social creatures and can't do without uniting with other people. This happens on the one hand, because it would be really hard just to survive physically in nature alone for human beings. Fighting animals to protect oneself, finding food, fighting with natural challenges and struggling to make the environment comfortable and livable- all that alone, without anybody's assistance and division of labor would take a whole lifetime of a human being, who will spend all of his or her available time in this battle to just not die, and won't have any time for intellectual or spiritual development, which would keep a human being on an animal level. Human beings in this condition wouldn't have time even to think of possible ways to create tools that could make this battle for survival less difficult, less time-consuming or less dangerous. So human beings left alone with nature wouldn't be able to make any technological/scientific or any other kind of progress. On the other hand, human nature demands that every individual should observe the problems, joys, failures and victories of other people. Humans need to see that others suffer and struggle like them too. Humans also need to share responsibilities and risks with someone. Besides human beings need to socialize to compare their own achievements with those of other individuals with similar/equal abilities, to show off. For humans, the sense of being the best, of one's own excellence is very important for self-confidence. If human beings were to function alone, they would automatically be the best of humans and smartest of all living creatures in the world and there would be nobody they could compete with, win over and receive approval from. Competing with nonhumans wouldn't give a sense of satisfaction, because animals' intellectual and cognitive abilities are different and disadvantaged in comparison with humans'. The human will of competing, helping, sharing ideas and responsibilities with each other is what drives technological, scientific, economic, ideological, social and other types of progress. As one Russian proverb says, one head is good, two heads are better. This means that for one person it's hard and often even impossible to consider every aspect of a problem and make a decision quickly enough, while many people together can brainstorm the problem and sum up possible decisions, and in this way find a better solution. Also, if every human was to function alone, everyone would have to learn everything from the beginning, from zero. People would have to find out by themselves how to use tools, how to make food, start fires and survive on earth. It would mean that humanity wouldn't be able to progress and humans would just be repeating the way their ancestors developed- adding nothing new to it.

Last, humans need to receive recognition, appreciation and approval of their behavior from other creatures like them as an award for their own deeds. In order to feel powerful, a person needs to be useful, and helpful to others, because to help means to be stronger than the one being helped. If a human doesn't have a sense, that he/she is in some way stronger than others; if a person has no chance to help other people, he/she will feel that there's no point in living and that their life is empty. So it's clear that humans need to live in a society and help, communicate, compete, support, love, fight, share responsibilities, information and ideas with each other. That's what makes us human. Otherwise we wouldn't need the ability of verbal communication and speech. Humans feel more affection towards and solidarity with people they know for extended period of time (people they work, live, study, entertain with; people, that share their hobbies, interests, goals or who had spent a lot of time with them in the past or even better- in present time). An individual would feel more affection to someone, he/she knows for a long time and has a common past with, than to someone, she/he learns about or communicates with for the first time in his/her life. This is another aspect of human nature. A person can't love equally a population of the whole world, that's why people always look for like-minded people; for someone who shares their lifestyle, values, perceptions, ideas, beliefs, career etc. People divide into different groups by uniting with individuals in some way similar to them and separating themselves from people who are different from them in a certain way. Like-minded people unite into "in" groups leaving the rest of the world in "out" group. Social group members divide the world into "us", the group members and "others", everybody else. Social groups are vital for society because they encourage conformity by giving a sense of privilege to their members. The members of a social group feel privileged to be inside the group, receive support, solidarity and affection from its other members and feel proud, that they know secrets of the group that outsiders don't know and because of that, they are ready to conform to the group. People tend to approve and accept values, norms, beliefs, ideas, and cultures that are considered usual in their living environment and perceive as unacceptable everything that is unknown for them or things that are completely different from the things around them. That's why self-identification and self-association with certain social groups is a trait strongly attached to human nature.

To be continued…