Saturday, January 09, 2016

Status and prestige

While reading 'The secret of our success', I was reminded that status seemed to be particularly important among Indians and started searching. It seems that there are some evolutionary reasons mentioned in a few places. On the otherhand, Joseph Henrich discusses its positive role in learning, imitation and fostering cooperation. It is also in this paper co-written by him: The Big Man Mechanism: How prestige fosters cooperation and creates prosocial leaders
On the otherhand, rembering that status and prestige are not quite the same, it seemed that among many Indians that I met (others too but more intense among Indians), status pursuit seems to be for its own sake. Some of the conversations from Telugu people from coastal Andhra who normally do not read books outside what is needed in their professions: " I have not really met any who is more intelligent than me". " Same in my case". " I have international standing. What do these people think?" The first two were reactions to my statement about some wonderful mathematicians that I met like William Thurston. The third was somebody who resents lack of promotion from a lecturership and has not been treated with great respect and admiration in a Telugu party. 

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