Clark, Amanda, Dunbar, R.I.M., Hurst, Nicola L. Conflict and cooperation among the Vikings.

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  • Author: Clark, Amanda, Dunbar, R.I.M., Hurst, Nicola L.
  • Title: Conflict and cooperation among the Vikings
  • Published in: Ethology and Sociobiology 16, 3
  • Year: 1995
  • Pages: 233-246
  • E-text: ScienceDirect
  • Reference: Clark, Amanda, Dunbar, R.I.M., Hurst, Nicola L. "Conflict and cooperation among the Vikings." Ethology and Sociobiology 16, 3 (1995): 233-246.

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This study describes a qualitative anthropological/sociobiological analysis aimed at discovering the influence that kin relationships had on the transpiring of blood feuds and the decisions to form alliances in Viking society. The researchers use two medieval sagas for their analysis: Orkneyinga saga and Njáls saga. The researchers count the number of murders, quests for revenge, and alliances formed and calculate the correlation between these decisions and the relatedness of the people involved in the decisions. The researchers found that the likelihood of murdering a relative and/or seeking revenge for the killing of a relative depends on the risk and reward of doing so. If the reward is high, individuals are more likely to commit a murder, even if the person is a relative. If the risk involved in seeking vengeance is high, relatives are more likely to take money to settle a feud. In addition, the researchers found that alliances between family members tend to last longer and generally exist with less conditions placed on the alliance than those that are formed with those who are not relatives.

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  • Written by: Mads A. Hoofnagle
  • Icelandic/English translation:
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