Markus Tauschek

Competition Cultures. A Cultural Anthropological Sketch of the Problem

Eine kulturanthropologische Problemskizze


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Cultural mechanisms of hierarchization and assessment are booming. Hardly any area of life in the so-called achievement-oriented or competitive society seems unaffected by competitive patterns and logics. The identification of undifferentiated “competition cultures” and a related marginally analytical discussion is accompanied by a surprisingly thin empiricism, even though since Georg Simmel’s theoretical reflections on a paradigm of competition social sciences have again and again underlined levels of action in the production of competitivity. However, the way competition affects everyday life, the way real actors negotiate competitive practices discursively and produce them simultaneously and which conflicting strategies of appropriation are constituted is ethnographically hardly illuminated. This article proposes a cultural-scientific research program of a cultural anthropology of competitivity. In addition to a focus on the basic cultural mechanisms – selection, hierarchization, awarding, marginalization, formatting, etc. – and the acting subjects that can be understood as a competitive self, the article also discusses the analytical capacity of the concept of competition and its semantic field (agonality, rivalry, etc.) for an anthropological-ethnological research.

competition, rivalry, cultural performance, entrepreneurial self, economy, evaluation