The War of the Sexes: How Conflict and Cooperation Have Shaped Men and Women from Prehistory to the Present [NOOK Book]

Overview

As countless love songs, movies, and self-help books attest, men and women have long sought different things. The result? Seemingly inevitable conflict. Yet we belong to the most cooperative species on the planet. Isn't there a way we can use this capacity to achieve greater harmony and equality between the sexes? In The War of the Sexes, Paul Seabright argues that there is--but first we must understand how the tension between conflict and cooperation developed in our remote evolutionary past, how it shaped the ...

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The War of the Sexes: How Conflict and Cooperation Have Shaped Men and Women from Prehistory to the Present

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Overview

As countless love songs, movies, and self-help books attest, men and women have long sought different things. The result? Seemingly inevitable conflict. Yet we belong to the most cooperative species on the planet. Isn't there a way we can use this capacity to achieve greater harmony and equality between the sexes? In The War of the Sexes, Paul Seabright argues that there is--but first we must understand how the tension between conflict and cooperation developed in our remote evolutionary past, how it shaped the modern world, and how it still holds us back, both at home and at work.

Drawing on biology, sociology, anthropology, and economics, Seabright shows that conflict between the sexes is, paradoxically, the product of cooperation. The evolutionary niche--the long dependent childhood--carved out by our ancestors requires the highest level of cooperative talent. But it also gives couples more to fight about. Men and women became experts at influencing one another to achieve their cooperative ends, but also became trapped in strategies of manipulation and deception in pursuit of sex and partnership. In early societies, economic conditions moved the balance of power in favor of men, as they cornered scarce resources for use in the sexual bargain. Today, conditions have changed beyond recognition, yet inequalities between men and women persist, as the brains, talents, and preferences we inherited from our ancestors struggle to deal with the unpredictable forces unleashed by the modern information economy.

Men and women today have an unprecedented opportunity to achieve equal power and respect. But we need to understand the mixed inheritance of conflict and cooperation left to us by our primate ancestors if we are finally to escape their legacy.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Seabright (The Company of Strangers: A Natural History of Economic Life) draws from economics, biology, sociology, and anthropology in an attempt to reconcile men and women's propensity to disagree with their ability to cooperate. He argues that the origin of conflict between the sexes derives from the span of time during which partners must cooperate to raise a child from birth to independence—for humans, this period is much longer than for other animals. But of course, men and women disagree about more than just child-rearing. Seabright zooms out and across history in an accessible mix of scholarly prose and chatty anecdote to explain why inequalities and disagreements persist beyond potty-training. The first section explores how males of many species use different strategies to manipulate females into reproducing with them, and how females control the males in return. Turning to today, Seabright investigates everything from the effects of technology on gender-bias, to the various benefits of tallness, talent, and charm in the workplace. But though rife with food for thought, Seabright's offering resembles a buffet more than a thought-out meal—each morsel is understandable enough, but getting a grip on his overall argument is a chore. He writes that "ucidity is hard to come by," and unfortunately that's true of this book, too—but that doesn't mean it isn't worth the effort. Photos (May)
PublishersWeekly.com

Seabright zooms out and across history in an accessible mix of scholarly prose and chatty anecdote to explain why inequalities and disagreements persist beyond potty-training. . . . Turning to today, Seabright investigates everything from the effects of technology on gender-bias, to the various benefits of tallness, talent, and charm in the workplace.
LSE Politics and Policy blog
Right off the bat, I can say that this book should not be collecting dust on your shelf. . . . [I]s War of the Sexes a challenging and interesting read? Undoubtedly so.
— Sander Van Der Linden
The Guardian - Jonathan Ree
[A] witty, informative and cogent new book.
LSE Politics and Policy blog - Sander Van Der Linden
Right off the bat, I can say that this book should not be collecting dust on your shelf. . . . [I]s War of the Sexes a challenging and interesting read? Undoubtedly so.
Guardian - Jonathan Rée
[A] witty, informative and cogent new book.
Nature - John Whitfield
Throughout the book, Seabright is terrific company—entertaining and convincing.
The Enlightened Economist - Diane Coyle
The War of the Sexes is a fascinating read. I love its interdisciplinarity.
Times Higher Education - Camilla Power
Seabright, an economist familiar with evolutionary modelling, synthesises several disciplines in asking what our evolutionary heritage teaches us about men's and women's rights and roles in the modern labour market. Judicious in bringing Darwinism to bear on contemporary mores, he avoids the vulgar reductionism that often plagues this kind of popular science.
From the Publisher
One of Financial Times (FT.com) Best Economics Books of 2013

"[A] witty, informative and cogent new book."—Jonathan Rée, Guardian

"Seabright zooms out and across history in an accessible mix of scholarly prose and chatty anecdote to explain why inequalities and disagreements persist beyond potty-training. . . . Turning to today, Seabright investigates everything from the effects of technology on gender-bias, to the various benefits of tallness, talent, and charm in the workplace."PublishersWeekly.com

"Throughout the book, Seabright is terrific company—entertaining and convincing."—John Whitfield, Nature

"Right off the bat, I can say that this book should not be collecting dust on your shelf. . . . [I]s War of the Sexes a challenging and interesting read? Undoubtedly so."—Sander Van Der Linden, LSE Politics and Policy blog

"The War of the Sexes is a fascinating read. I love its interdisciplinarity."—Diane Coyle, The Enlightened Economist

"Seabright, an economist familiar with evolutionary modelling, synthesises several disciplines in asking what our evolutionary heritage teaches us about men's and women's rights and roles in the modern labour market. Judicious in bringing Darwinism to bear on contemporary mores, he avoids the vulgar reductionism that often plagues this kind of popular science."—Camilla Power, Times Higher Education

"Seabright is unusual among economists in being a thoroughgoing Darwinian, and in this fascinating book he takes an evolutionary perspective to explore why there are still inequalities in economic power between men and women."—Jon Wainwright, Skeptic

The Guardian
[A] witty, informative and cogent new book.
— Jonathan Rée
Library Journal
Seabright (economics, Toulouse Sch. of Economics; The Company of Strangers: A Natural History of Economic Life) begins this book with a survey of natural selection and prehistory: how our species became Homo sapiens and what that evolutionary process means for social interaction today, particularly relating to economics and gender. In particular, he examines what has caused the heretofore exclusion of so many women from positions of economic power. He addresses how public policy can and should help bring about societal changes that will allow men and women to work together in the best interests of both genders, as well as the species as a whole. Seabright has outlined his book nicely; at its end, he neatly sums up his conclusions in two short paragraphs. VERDICT The majority of the book is a verbose exposition of the author's theories, with Seabright clearly demonstrating that he has a command of his subject. Well researched and documented, this book is best suited for academics. Seabright is too jargony for a general reader unversed in the social sciences.—Margaret Cardwell, Memphis
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781400841608
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press
  • Publication date: 4/9/2012
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Edition description: Course Book
  • Pages: 256
  • Sales rank: 1,100,151
  • File size: 2 MB

Meet the Author

Paul Seabright is the author of The Company of Strangers: A Natural History of Economic Life (Princeton). He is professor of economics at the Toulouse School of Economics, director of the Institute for Advanced Study in Toulouse, and has been a fellow of All Souls College, University of Oxford, and Churchill College, University of Cambridge.
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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix

Part One Prehistory
Chapter 1: Introduction 3
Chapter 2: Sex and Salesmanship 27
Chapter 3: Seduction and the Emotions 40
Chapter 4: Social Primates 60

Part Two Today
Chapter 5: Testing for Talent 93
Chapter 6: What Do Women Want? 111
Chapter 7: Coalitions of the Willing 126
Chapter 8: The Scarcity of Charm 141
Chapter 9: The Tender War 157

Notes 183
References 211
Index 233

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