Cultural multi-level selection and biological market theory explain the coupled dynamics of labor exchange cooperation and social support

Abstract

Smallholders rely on labor exchange and social support networks; however, little is known about the cooperative dynamics of these interlinked systems. Whereas cultural multi-level selection (CLMS) predicts group membership and changes in the dominant level of selection modulates cooperation, biological market theory (BMT) posits market size fluctuations affect cooperation. We assess these predictions by examining two dimensions of labor exchange, competitive helping and labor reciprocity, and their downstream impacts on social support in a Dominican community between 2007 and 2010. First, we analyze within-community labor organization. Next, we analyze how international regulatory change and the 2008–2009 World Trade Collapse affected local labor organization and its impacts on competitive helping and labor reciprocity. Finally, we show how labor dynamics affected social support. Analyses reveal that (1) village labor initially involved two levels (labor contracting and labor exchange) and the presence of a structured group who maintained higher rates of reciprocal labor relative to non-group members; (2) changes in the international commodities market reduced labor contracting, the size of the labor exchange market, and the dominant level of selection, resulting in less competitive helping, lower rates of reciprocity for group members, and more cliquish social support; and (3) as the global market for bay oil ameliorated, labor organization shifted back to a pre-recession structure, resulting in a larger labor market with more competitive helping and higher rates of reciprocity amongst group members. We highlight the utility of an integrated CMLS and BMT framework for analyzing cooperative dynamics and socio-economic systems sustainability.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3

References

  1. Ames GR, Barrow M, Borton C, Casey TE, Matthews WS, Nabney J (1971) Bay oil distillation in Dominica. Trop Sci 13:13–25

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  2. Anderson MG, Holcombe E, Blake JR, Ghesquire F, Holm-Nielsen N, Fisseha T (2011) Reducing landslide risk in communities: evidence from the Easter Caribbean. Appl Geogr 21(2):590–599

    Article  Google Scholar 

  3. Baldwin RE (2009) The great trade collapse: causes, consequences, and prospects. Center for Economic Policy Research and VOXEU.org, Geneva

    Google Scholar 

  4. Barclay P (2004) Trustworthiness and competitive altruism can also solve the “tragedy of the commons”. Evol Hum Behav 25:209–220

    Article  Google Scholar 

  5. Barclay P (2011) Competitve helping increases with the size of biological markets and invades defection. J Theor Biol 281:47–55

    Article  Google Scholar 

  6. Barclay P, Willer R (2006) Partner choice creates competitive altruism in humans. Proc R Soc B Biol Sci 274:749–753

    Article  Google Scholar 

  7. Bems R, Johnson RC, Yi KM (2013) The great trade collapse. Annu Rev Econom 5:375–400

    Article  Google Scholar 

  8. Bernard HR (2002) Research methods in anthropology: qualitative and quantitative approaches, 3rd edn. Altimira Press, Walnut Creek, CA

    Google Scholar 

  9. Borgatti SP, Everett MG, Freeman LC (2002) Ucinet for windows: software for social network analysis. Analytic Technologies, Harvard

    Google Scholar 

  10. Borgerhoff-Mulder M, Coppolillo P (2005) Conservation: linking ecology, economics, and culture. Princeton University Press, Princeton

    Google Scholar 

  11. Boyd R, Richerson PJ (2009) Culture and the evolution of human cooperation. Philos Trans R Soc B 364(1533):3281–3288

    Article  Google Scholar 

  12. Caribbean Development Bank (2003) Country poverty assessment—final report, vol 1. Halcrow Group Limited, London

    Google Scholar 

  13. Caribbean Development Bank (2010) Country poverty assessment—Dominica, vol 1. Kairi Consultants Limited, Tunapuna

    Google Scholar 

  14. Cervantes-Godoy D, Kimura S, Antón J (2013) Smallholder risk management in developing countries. OECD food, agriculture and fisheries papers, No. 61. OECD Publishing, Paris. http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/5k452k28wljl-en

  15. Demyttenaere JCR (2012) The new European Union Flavouring Regulation and its impact on essential oils: production of natural flavouring ingredients and maximum levels of restricted substances. Flavour Frag J 27:3–12

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  16. Demyttenaere JCR (2016) Recent EU legislation on flavors and fragrances and its impact on essential oils. In: Hünsü K, Baser C, Buchbauer G (eds) Handbook of essential oils: science, technology, and applications, 2nd edn. CRC Press, Boca Raton, pp 1071–1088

    Google Scholar 

  17. Dirks R (1972) Networks, groups, and adaptation in an Afro-Caribbean community. Man 4:565–585

    Article  Google Scholar 

  18. Downey SS (2010) Can properties of labor-exchange networks explain the resilience of swidden agriculture? Ecol Soc 15(4):15

    Article  Google Scholar 

  19. Duhaime G, Searles E, Usher PJ, Myers H, Fréchette P (2004) Social cohesion and living conditions in the Canadian arctic: from theory to measurement. Soc Indic Res 66:295–317

    Article  Google Scholar 

  20. Erasmus CJ (1956) Culture, structure, and process: the occurrence and disappearance of reciprocal farm labor. Southwest J Anthropol 12(4):444–469

    Article  Google Scholar 

  21. European Chemicals Agency (2009) Questions & Answers on Regulation (EC) No 1272/2008 on classification, labelling and packaging of substances and mixtures. ECHA, Helsinki

    Google Scholar 

  22. Fafchamps M (2006) Development and social capital. J Dev Stud 42(7):1180–1198

    Article  Google Scholar 

  23. Fafchamps M, Gubert F (2007) The formation of risk sharing networks. J Dev Econ 83:326–350

    Article  Google Scholar 

  24. Fu F, Hauert C, Nowak MA, Wang L (2008) Reputation-based partner choice promotes cooperation in social networks. Phys Rev E 78:1–8

    Google Scholar 

  25. Gilligan DO (2004) The economics of agricultural labor exchange with evidence from Indonesia. Unpublished dissertation. University Park, University of Maryland

  26. Harvey CA, Rakotobe ZL, Rao NS, Dave R, Razafimahatratra H, Rabarijohn RH, Rajaofara H, MacKinnon JL (2014) Extreme vulnerability of smallholder farmers to agricultural risks and climate change in Madagascar. Philos Trans R Soc B 369(1639):20130089

    Article  Google Scholar 

  27. Honychurch L (1995) The Dominica story: a history of the Island. Macmillian Education, Oxford

    Google Scholar 

  28. Horowitz MM (1967) Morne-Paysan: peasant village in Martinique. Holt, Reinhart, and Winston, New York

    Google Scholar 

  29. IFAD (2013) Smallholders, food security, and the environment. International Fund for Agricultural Development, Rome

    Google Scholar 

  30. IMF (2004) Dominica: interim poverty reduction strategy paper. International Monetary Fund, Washington, DC

    Google Scholar 

  31. Jaeggi AV, Hooper PL, Beheim BA, Kaplan H, Gurven M (2016) Reciprocal exchange patterned by market forces helps explain cooperation in a small-scale society. Curr Biol 26:2180–2187

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  32. Lyle HF III, Smith EA (2014) The reputational and social network benefits of prosociality in an Andean community. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 111(13):4820–4825

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  33. Macfarlan SJ (2010) The logic of labor exchange in a dominican village: competitive altruism, biologic markets, and the nexus of male social relationships. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, Washington State University, Pullman, WA

  34. Macfarlan SJ (2011) The dual-role method and ultimatum game performance. Field Method 23(1):102–114

    Article  Google Scholar 

  35. Macfarlan SJ (2016) Social evolution: the force of the market. Curr Biol 26(16):R756–R758

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  36. Macfarlan SJ, Lyle H (2015) Multiple reputation domains and cooperative behavior in two Latin American communities. Philos Trnas R Soc B 370(1683):20150009

    Article  Google Scholar 

  37. Macfarlan SJ, Quinlan RJ (2008) Kinship, family, and gender effects in the ultimatum game. Hum Nat 19:294–309

    Article  Google Scholar 

  38. Macfarlan SJ, Remiker M, Quinlan RJ (2012) Competitive altruism explains labor exchange variation in a Dominican village. Curr Anthropol 35(1):118–124

    Article  Google Scholar 

  39. Macfarlan SJ, Quinlan RJ, Remiker M (2013) Cooperative behaviour and prosocial reputation dynamics in a Dominican village. Proc R Soc B Biol Sci 280(1761):20130557. doi:10.1098/rspb.2013.0557

    Article  Google Scholar 

  40. Macfarlan SJ, Walker RS, Flinn MV, Chagnon NA (2014) Lethal coalitionary aggression and long-term alliance formation among Yanomamö men. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 111(47):1662–16669

    Article  Google Scholar 

  41. McHale D, Laurie WA, Woof MA (1977) Composition of west Indian bay oil. Food Chem 2(1):19–25

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  42. McNamara JM, Bara Z, Fromhage L, Houston AI (2008) The coevolution of choosiness and cooperation. Nature 451:189–192

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  43. Moore MP (1975) Co-operative labour in peasant society. J Peasant Stud 2(3):270–291

    Article  Google Scholar 

  44. Morton JF (2007) The impact of climate change on smallholder and subsistence agriculture. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 104(50):19680–19685

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  45. Murphy S (2010) Changing perspectives: small-scale farmers, markets and globalization. International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED), London

    Google Scholar 

  46. Nesse RM (2007) Runaway social selection for displays of partner value and altruism. Biol Theory 2(2):143–155

    Article  Google Scholar 

  47. Noe R, Hammerstein P (1994) Biological markets: supply and demand determine the effect of partner choice in cooperation, mutualism, and mating. Behav Ecol Sociobiol 35:1–11

    Article  Google Scholar 

  48. Noe R, Hammerstein P (1995) Biological markets. TrEE 10(8):336–339

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  49. Ponte S (2000) From social negotiation to contract: Shifting strategies of farm labor recruitment in Tanzania under market liberalization. World Dev 28(6):1017–1030

    Article  Google Scholar 

  50. Provinse JH (1937) Cooperative ricefield cultivation among the Siang Dyaks of Central Borneo. Am Anthropol 39(1):77–102

    Article  Google Scholar 

  51. Quinlan MB (2004) From the bush: the frontline of health-care in a Caribbean village. Wadsworth, Belmont

    Google Scholar 

  52. Quinlan RJ (2006) Gender and risk in a matrifocal Caribbean community. Am Anthropol 106(3):464–479

    Article  Google Scholar 

  53. Quinlan RJ, Flinn MV (2005) Kinship, sex, and fitness in a Caribbean community. Hum Nat 16(1):32–57

    Article  Google Scholar 

  54. Regulation (EC) No 1223/2009 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 30 November 2009 on cosmetic products (2009) Off J Eur Union L342:59–209

  55. Regulation (EC) No 1272/2008 of the European Parliament and of the Council on classification, labeling, and packaging of substances and mixtures, amending and repealing Directives 67/548/EEC and 1994/45/EC, and amending Regulation (EC) No 1907/2006 (2008) Off J Eur Union L353:1

  56. Regulation (EC) No 1334/2008 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 16 December 2008 on flavourings and certain food ingredients with flavouring properties for use in and on foods and amending Council Regulation (EEC No 1601/91, Regulations *EC) No 2232/92 and (EC) No 110/2008 and Directive 2000/13/EC (2008) Off J Eur Union L354:34–50

  57. Roberts G (1998) Competitive altruism: from reciprocity to the handicap principle. Proc R Soc Biol Sci B 265:427–431

    Article  Google Scholar 

  58. Rosenberry W (1988) Political economy. Ann Rev Anthropol 17:161–185

    Article  Google Scholar 

  59. Shelburne RC (2010) The global financial crisis and its impact on trade: The world and the European emerging economies. Discussion papers series 2010.2. United Nations Economic Commission for Europe, Geneva

  60. Sugiyama L (2003) Illness, injury, and disability among Shiwiar forager-horticulturalists: implications of health-risk buffering for the evolution of human life history. Am J Phys Anthropol 123(4):371–389

    Article  Google Scholar 

  61. Sugiyama LS, Sugiyama MS (2003) Social roles, prestige, and health risk: social niche specialization as a risk buffering strategy. Hum Nat 14(2):165–190

    Article  Google Scholar 

  62. Swindell K (1985) Farm labour. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge

    Google Scholar 

  63. Tucker AO, Maciarello MJ, Adams RP, Landrum LR, Zanoni TA (1991) Volatile leaf oils of Caribbean Myrtaceae. I. Three varieties of Pimenta racemosa (Miller) J. Moore of the Dominican Republic and the commercial bay oil. J Essent Oil Res 3(5):323–329

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  64. United Nations (2011) Globally harmonized system of classification and labeling of chemicals (GHS), 4th edn. United Nations, New York

    Google Scholar 

  65. United Nations Statistical Division (2017) Data retrieved 1 Jan 2017, http://comtrade.un.org/

  66. Waring TM, Kline MA, Brooks JS, Goff SH, Gowdy J, Janssen MA, Smaldino PE, Jacquet J (2015) A multilevel evolutionary framework for sustainability analysis. Ecol Soc 20(2):34

    Article  Google Scholar 

  67. Waring TM, Goff SH, Smaldino PE (2017) The coevolution of economic institutions and sustainable consumption via cultural group selection. Ecol Econ 131:524–532

    Article  Google Scholar 

  68. Wilson PJ (1969) Reputation and respectability: a suggestion for Caribbean ethnology. Man 4(1):70–84

    Article  Google Scholar 

  69. Wilson PJ (1971) Caribbean crews: peer groups and male society. Caribb Stud 10(4):18–34

    Google Scholar 

  70. Wilson PJ (1973) Crab antics: the social anthropology of English-speaking Negro societies of the Caribbean. Yale University Press, New Haven

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Acknowledgements

The authors thank Jeremy Brooks, Adrian Bell, and two anonymous reviewers for valuable comments that substantially improved the manuscript, the people of Bwa Mawego, Dominica for permitting this research, Juranie Durand for his expertise in bay oil distillation, and Robert Quinlan and Mark Flinn for introducing us to the site. SJM also thanks the Wasatch Experience, University of Utah, for discussions on socio-ecological systems sustainability.

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Shane J. Macfarlan.

Additional information

Handled by Jeremy Brooks, Ohio State University School of Environment and Natural Resources, United States.

Electronic supplementary material

Below is the link to the electronic supplementary material.

Supplementary material 1 (XLSX 193 kb)

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Macfarlan, S.J., Remiker, M. Cultural multi-level selection and biological market theory explain the coupled dynamics of labor exchange cooperation and social support. Sustain Sci 13, 59–70 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11625-017-0481-x

Download citation

Keywords

  • Reciprocity
  • Labor exchange
  • Social support
  • Smallholders
  • Cultural multi-level selection theory
  • Biological market theory