13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
A well written book and a fascinating argument
, 22 May 2009
This review is from: No Contest: Case Against Competition (Paperback)
I am amazed that only one previous review of this book has been posted, because it explores a fascinating subject in depth and makes a convincing argument with a wealth of supporting references.
Alfie states his argument clearly. He defines 'competition' as the pursuit of mutually exclusive goals, including 'structural' competition in situations where people can only win in opposition to others, and 'internal' competition which gives people a sense that they must outdo one another. In the first chapter he shows that this competition is not inevitable, including a forceful argument that competitive behaviour is not an unavoidable aspect of 'human nature'.
One of his key arguments is that competition is a learned behaviour. He argues that we can learn to cooperate rather than compete. He criticises competitive sport and dedicates one chapter to argue that cooperative activities can be more fun. He gives particular attention to competition in school education and uses one chapter to challenge the argument that competition is character building. He also challenges competition in the economy, politics, and even in the judicial system.
In some places the book specifically addresses the American (US) culture of competition in the early 1980s, but now the book is 25 years old and that culture has sadly been exported to much of the world. I found it totally relevant to current culture in the UK.
Finally, the first edition of this book was published in the early eighties, and the second edition merely adds an additional chapter, so it would be interesting to know how the research has developed since then. I would like to find some further reading, but very few people seem to have written about this fundamental issue.
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