Frank Salter

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Frank Kemp Salter is an Australian academic and researcher at the former Max Planck Institute for Behavioral Physiology, Andechs, Germany, best known for his writings on ethnicity and ethnic interests.

He is a political ethologist, studying political phenomena using the methods and theories of behavioural biology in addition to conventional methods. Those phenomena include hierarchy (Emotions in Command, 1995), indoctrination (Ethnic Conflict and Indoctrination, 1998, edited with I. Eibl-Eibesfeldt), ethnic altruism and conflict (Welfare, Ethnicity and Altruism, 2002, Risky Transactions: Trust, Kinship and Ethnicity, 2004 ), and genetic interests (On Genetic Interests: Family, Ethnicity, and Humanity in an Age of Mass Migration, 2003).

Research history[edit]

Salter’s field of research can best be described as political ethology or urban anthropology, applying the concepts and methods of behavioral biology (ethology, evolutionary psychology, and evolutionary anthropology) to the analysis of sociopolitical phenomena, such as power, hierarchy, social control, ethnicity and nationalism.

Frank Salter matriculated (undergraduate) at the University of Sydney (1979–1982) where he majored in government and public administration, specializing in organization theory under the mentorship of Ross Curnow. These studies emphasized the sociological approach of Max Weber[citation needed]; later, Salter, dissatisfied with this purely sociological approach[citation needed], became interested in integrating the conventional social sciences with human biology.

Salter then studied for a master's and a doctorate, at Griffith University in Brisbane (1984–1990), focusing on biological perspectives of social and political studies. Salter’s graduate school mentor was Dr. Hiram Caton, who had worked with Edward O. Wilson at Harvard and Irenäus Eibl-Eibesfeldt at Germany’s Max Planck Institute. This area of research resulted in Salter’s first book, Emotions in Command (OUP, 1995), consultancies with government and business organizations, and in an invitation to conduct postdoctoral research in Eibl-Eibesfeldt’s Centre for Human Ethology. Salter began his postdoctoral work under Dr. Eibl-Eibesfeldt in 1991.

In the mid-1990s, Salter began applying behavioral biology to other social and political phenomena that involve interpersonal relationships and manipulative strategies, including interpersonal attractiveness, crowds and riots, indoctrination, begging, Edward Westermarck’s naturalistic ethics, training suicide terrorists, the connection between class mobility and reproductive strategies, and ethnic solidarity. These diversity studies resulted in three books: Risky Transactions (2002) on the interpersonal bonds and trust that facilitate high-risk enterprises; On Genetic Interests on the implications of ethnic kinship for political theory; and Welfare, Ethnicity, & Altruism (2004) on the impact of ethnic similarity on public altruism. Salter’s most recent (unpublished) research connects the themes of hierarchy and ethnicity by developing a method for comparing ethnic group power.[1]

Diversity research[edit]

From the mid-1990s Salter began to research ethnic diversity in addition to organizations; these studies focused on ethnic mafias, middlemen and freedom fighters (Risky Transactions, 2002) and the impact of ethnic diversity on welfare states (Welfare, Ethnicity, & Altruism, 2004). The question asked: can ethnic altruism be adaptive? Salter’s findings confirmed the view advanced by Pierre van den Berghe in his book The Ethnic Phenomenon, that shared ethnicity is extended kinship at the genetic level, that members of an ethnic group are related in the same way that members of a family are related, though less strongly.[2] One viewpoint is that Salter's findings fail to take into account a key assumption of Hamilton's Rule—no selection on an allele for altruism. Due to this assumption, Hamilton's Rule is only applicable to closely related kin; for more distantly related kin, the relatedness term is unreliable.[3] It is currently undocumented as to what the results are in violating this assumption, but according to this assumption one can only apply Hamilton's Rule to closely related kin. Research is ongoing to determine the effects when extended towards distant kin.

However, others believe that this narrow interpretation of Hamilton’s Rule [4] is incomplete. In his classic 1964 paper Hamilton did indeed limit his rule to close kin; however, by 1970 he had revised his theory and argued that genetic similarity is sufficient basis for Hamilton's Rule to operate, a view supported by Grafen.[5] In addition, Salter’s definition of “ethnic genetic interests” in “On Genetic Interests” [6] is independent of Hamilton’s Rule and derives from differences in gene frequencies between populations. Salter argues that investment in ethnic genetic interests is a rational choice dependent on individual values.[7] Salter’s realization that ethnicity is extended kinship at the genetic level led to his conclusion that individuals have a large genetic stake in their ethnic groups, which could help explain the ubiquitousness of ethnic identity, solidarity and conflict from tribal times to the present. From the late 1990s Salter began studying the strategies used in group competition, with a particular interest in win-win strategies, those that would be adaptive to all groups. The outcome of this analysis was Salter’s theory of “Universal Nationalism,” described in his book On Genetic Interests: Family, Ethnicity, and Humanity in an Age of Mass Migration.[8]

Salter has argued that "multi-ethnic societies are often confronted with the problem of discrimination and group conflict." He has written:

More ethnically homogeneous nations are better able to build public goods, are more democratic, less corrupt, have higher productivity and less inequality, are more trusting and care more for the disadvantaged, develop social and economic capital faster, have lower crime rates, are more resistant to external shocks, and are better global citizens, for example by giving more foreign aid. Moreover, they are less prone to civil war, the greatest source of violent death in the twentieth century.[9]

Salter has also argued that it is often the original majority group who suffer the most as a result of immigration-induced ethnic diversity:

They are pushed out of areas of employment and business; they suffer from the higher rates of crime often shown by immigrant communities; they become the minority in poorer suburbs; and they sense a threat to their continuity as a people belonging to a particular place. They observe that the newcomers have a different group identity, one that excludes them, and that where there were few, now there are many. They sense, sometimes with justification, that they are losing their country.[10]

Non-diversity research[edit]

Although perhaps best known for his diversity research, Salter has contributed a significant body of work on non-diversity issues, including studies of dominance, workplace relations, and the relationship of these issues to emotions and human biology. Salter believes that bio-behavioral analysis has relevance to the challenges faced by managers and policy makers; therefore Salter’s findings can be directly applicable to the fields of business and economics as well as politics. Salter began consulting immediately upon receiving his doctoral degree in 1990 - in Brisbane and Sydney, Australia - analyzing and providing training about the causes and nature of employee stress which was resulting in a loss of morale at work and absenteeism due to illness. In one organization Salter identified asymmetric conflict between managers as a stress factor, linking workplace emotions, biological response, and productivity. Subsequently, Salter stopped consulting in order to continue academic research in Germany. During this time, Salter’s research has gone well beyond hierarchy and is thus applicable to a wider range of issues.[11]

For example, in his foreword to the 2008 paperback edition of Emotions in Command, Salter notes that the book is not only an academic treatise: "The book is more applicable to training managers and organizational analysts than it is in proving that humans are an evolved species."(p. xxvii).[12] Therefore, the content of this book can be used for practical training for individuals in business management and analysis, economics, and politics.

It is important to point out that Salter's hierarchy research continued in parallel with his diversity studies. For example, in 2007, Salter published a major observational study of dominance behavior at the entrance to a Munich nightclub. The majority of Salter's academic work has dealt with non-diversity research.

Emotions in Command[edit]

Emotions in Command represents one of Salter’s most fundamental non-diversity research books, which is of use for people in business, economics and politics[citation needed]. It has as its premise “a quest for a general theory of organizations valid in all cultures.” The book is described as “… a quest for a general theory of organizations valid in all cultures. Central to Frank Salter's investigation is the question of social power: why people obey their superiors. His approach is to locate the nature of organizational power in the behavioral details of hierarchical interactions in the institutional settings in which they occur. Salter begins by noting the extensive research that points to hierarchy as being a necessary component of organization and proceeds to an analysis rendered in universals of primary emotions and behaviors of dominance and affiliation. The first five chapters are theoretical, the last seven empirical. He reviews the social science literature showing the place of ethological methods and concepts, then aspects of the evolution and physiology of dominance and affiliation. Salter then introduces the emotional underpinnings of dominance and affiliation, and applies these concepts in a summary of the literature on interpersonal signaling. He describes the methods used, drawing parallels with classical ethology, anthropology, and sociology.” Emotions in Command was originally published in the series Oxford Science Publications., and in 2008 it was republished with a new foreword by Transaction as a social science classic.

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Salter website
  2. ^ Salter Diversity Research Page
  3. ^ McElreath, R and Robert Boyd. Mathematical models of social evolution: a guide for the perplexed. University of Chicago Press. 2007
  4. ^ Hamilton’s Rule
  5. ^ Discussed in “On Genetic Interests”
  6. ^ Glossary of “On Genetic Interests”
  7. ^ Introduction of second edition of “On Genetic Interests”
  8. ^ Salter diversity-ethnic website
  9. ^ Frank Salter, "When Diversity Meets Ethnic Kinship: Interesting Times?", The Independent Australian, Issue No. 16, Spring 2008.
  10. ^ Frank Salter, "When Diversity Meets Ethnic Kinship: Interesting Times?", The Independent Australian, Issue No. 16, Spring 2008.
  11. ^ Salter website
  12. ^ Emotions in Command