Fiske, Alan - The Four Elementary Forms of Human Relations

The Structure of Concern Project compares many theoretical models from many disciplines to the Adizes PAEI model, arguing that they must all be reflecting the same underlying phenomenon. One concern structure model is described below.

Alan Fiske has developed a model of what he calls the four basic forms of sociality (Fiske, 1991). This typology is based on extensive fieldwork across many societies from some of the poorest to some of the richest on earth. Fiske identifies four relational types or skill sets that he believes account for all types of human relationship. They are presented below in PAEI order:

P – Market Pricing (MP): Haggling over a commercial transaction between strangers who do not plan to meet repeatedly. Involves bidding, bluffing and countering while keeping one’s true buying limits a secret. Non-personal instrumental exchanges with no self-disclosure.

A – Equality Matching (EM): Equality of exchange over time, a balance of exchanged favours, accruing social debt and obligation when receiving favours, the discharge of debt or gain of credit when giving favours. Tit-for-Tat. Ground rules for peer relationships.

E – Authority Ranking (AR): Negotiated inequality, deciding over time who has more importance, status or dominance over others. Unequal exchange where the dominant obtains resource advantages but accrues an obligation to support or sustain subordinates in some way.

I – Communal Sharing (CS): People contribute what they can and take what they need. Almost always constrained to the inclusive fitness group, nuclear family and sometimes various degrees of extended family, rarely beyond.

1. Fiske, A. P. (1991). Structures of Social Life: The Four Elementary Forms of Human Relations. New York: Free Press.
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