28 October 2018

Chess and the Behavioral Sciences

We're approaching the second anniversary of the series on The Sociology of Chess (November 2016), and I still haven't introduced what appears to be the most important work related to the subject, Players and Pawns (uchicago.edu), by Gary Alan Fine, subtitled 'How Chess Builds Community and Culture':-

A chess match seems as solitary an endeavor as there is in sports: two minds, on their own, in fierce opposition. In contrast, Gary Alan Fine argues that chess is a social duet: two players in silent dialogue who always take each other into account in their play. Surrounding that one-on-one contest is a community life that can be nearly as dramatic and intense as the across-the-board confrontation.

This video, from the American Folklore Society, might have nothing to do with chess, but it does serve as an introduction to the author and his work.

Gary Alan Fine, "The Folklore of Small Things: Tiny Publics and Realms of Local Knowledge" (1:48:09) • 'Published on Jun 19, 2017'

The description of the video says,

Gary Alan Fine (Northwestern University and the Center for the Advanced Study of the Behavioral Sciences), delivered the 2010 Francis Lee Utley Memorial Lecture of the AFS Fellows at the American Folklore Society Annual Meeting in Nashville, Tennessee on Friday, October 15.

Abstract: "To understand contemporary society folklore requires a robust theory of how small groups motivate the creation and retention of tradition. The establishment, ordering, and expansion of any culture depend on groups with shared pasts and futures, that are spatially situated, and that depend on common references. Folk cultures arise from interaction scenes, linked to a field of activity. Within complex societies, specialized groups fulfill a set of instrumental tasks within a complex division of labor. As a result many group cultures are linked to the presence of knowledge specialists: experts who serve as brokers for external, lay publics. These groups constitute epistemic communities linked to focused knowledge realms, achieving essential societal ends in the absence of general knowledge."

While writing this post I only watched the introduction to the lecture. Once it's posted, I'll watch the rest. If there is anything about chess, I'll mention it in a follow-up paragraph.

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