The Spectrum of Exchange

On page 72 of Richard Sennett’s book Together: the rituals, pleasures, and politics of cooperation, he outlines five different ways social animals engage:

  1. Altruistic exchange (entails self-sacrifice)
  2. Win-win exchange (both parties benefit)
  3. Differentiating exchange (partners become aware of their differences)
  4. Zero-sum exchange (one party prevails at the expense of another)
  5. Winner-takes-all exchange (one party wipes out the other)

Sennett explains:

In animal terms, this spectrum runs from the worker ant which offers up its body as food for other ants, to the wolf whose exchanges with sheep are invariably lethal; in human terms, the spectrum runs from Joan of Arc to genocide.