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“But that's not really mean”: Competing in a cooperative mode

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Abstract

Girls' games are widely perceived as impediments to the goal of a more equitable society because they are simpler and less competitive than boys' games, and foster skills, attitudes, and competencies that are inappropriate to the achievement of higher status adult roles. Girls' more cooperative social orientation, their concern for being “nice,” and for relationships with small groups of friends has been cited to explain why girls avoid more complex, competitive games. Observations from an ethnographic study of one girls' play group are used to illustrate that this type of social orientation is not incompatible with competition among girls. It shapes their ways of competing, not whether they compete at all. The girls in this study used a stereotypically feminine rhetoric of “nice” and “friends” to support, and even demand, aggressive competition among players.

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Hughes, L.A. “But that's not really mean”: Competing in a cooperative mode. Sex Roles 19, 669–687 (1988). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00288984

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Keywords

  • Small Group
  • Social Psychology
  • High Status
  • Social Orientation
  • Ethnographic Study