STARPOWER: Key Points of the Game
Illustrates general features of stratified societies
Unequal distribution of and access to key resources and labor
If groups begin with different resources, it is almost impossible for them to compete equally even if the rules are fair and equally applied
Unequal resources produce inequalities in potential for authority/power, in the strategies one uses, in one’s attitudes about the “system”, in one’s attitudes towards members of one’s group, and in one’s attitudes towards other groups.
Status Differentiation. From inferior to superior marked by distinct“cultural” symbols or markers of one’s status
Rights, duties, opportunities, and interactions are dependent on one’s status
Ascribed vs. Achieved Status. Is one’s position “ascribed” (based on birth, what one is ‘born into”)? Or is it “achieved” (based on one’s own actions rather than one’s birth). Does it differ at the beginning of the game? Later on in the game?
Formal Political Organization
Illustrates the emergence of the “state”: the squares supported by the “police” or “military”
Unequal access to and participation in decision-making by lower status groups
Ideology: variety of belief systems exist which justify (legitimize) stratification.
Meritocracy: focuses on achievement and hence implies it is a “just” system. One gets rewarded in accordance with one’s capacities and hard work (e.g. Horatio Alger)
Some Mobility—those who “move up” demonstrate the system is “fair”, based on “merit”.
Political Democracy emphasized—“equal rights” for all. Equal Opportunity laws.
Luck. An alternative ideology: It’s just a matter of luck [hiding that the system is “set up”]. Words like “unfortunate” imply it’s “fortune” rather than the system.
Blame the Victim—it’s your fault. Get victims to also blame themselves.
Secrecy and ignorance. “Hide chips from each other”…Cultivate individualism.
Illustrates People’s Reactions and Strategies Reflect Their Class Status and Position.
Lower Class Strategies:
Individualistic: break the rules, apathy, resentment, cheating, anger, depression, withdrawal, develop alternative things to do in class
Collective: protest, non-cooperation; strike, social ostracism of upper groups
Middle Class Strategy: inaction, don’t take sides, try to preserve one’s chips
Strategy of Upper Class. Alternative strategies depending on values and goals. All emphasize group unity, however.
Preserve power through paternalism, authoritarian rules, emphasizing “law and order”, manipulate and alter rules when threatened. Each strategy produces different reactions in other groups. Uphold & reiterate legitimizing ideologies: emphasize “fairness” and “merit” and “equal opportunity” rules. Deny system is unjust.
Prioritize social harmony—create a more just system and give up (some, all) power and privilege
Prioritize justice [experience guilt]—create a more equal and just system and give up (some, most, all) power and privilege
Police Strategy: uphold rules but especially for lower status groups; bend rules for upper classes; identify with authority; maintain distance from lower status groups
Attitudes towards the “game” or “system”: who enjoys the “game”? Who would like it to continue? Who feels alienated? Who wants it to end—quickly!! How about those who “moved up”? Did that alter their view of the game? How did they feel about those “left behind”? What expectations did those “left behind” have about those who “moved up”? Were they disappointed? Did they feel betrayed? How did oldtimers feel about “newcomers”? What does this illustrate?
Alternative Group Strategies for Bonus Chips: share, give to low, give to high; long-term vs. short-term strategies.
How Systems of Inequality are Maintained. Use of informal and formal mechanisms of social control.
Paternalism is more effective than authoritarian regimes. Squares don’t want to alienate lower groups. They want to maintain social solidarity and a feeling that “leaders” care about those under them. Cultivate “good intentions” and concern for “common good”, as if the “mother” or “father” of the people.
Divine sanction also legitimizes authority (e.g. The Instructor becomes “God” who ordains the squares)
Social Separation of Classes. Reduces social pressure from lower groups on upper classes; diminishes envy by lower classes, prevents empathy or guilt by upper groups
Constantly reinforce the idea of a ”just” ideology: that the system is just, fair, natural-biologically rooted, or supernaturally sanctioned.
Why Do Lower Classes continue “to play”? hope, lethargy, a culture of obedience, waiting for someone else, self-blame (so try-harder)
Alternative Outcomes and Their Significance.
Trading off social good will and social solidarity against amassing wealth and political power. What are the plusses and minuses of each system? Why do some choose different alternatives? Does having wealth (for several generations-rounds of the game) make one more likely to share?
Complexities of trying to “restructure” the system: will simply making the trading rules “fair” help? Is “affirmative action” enough? Does the solution require equalizing wealth? At every round? Will some inequality still emerge?
Discuss with students the complexities of trying to “restructure” the system.
Ask, will simply making the trading rules “fair” help?
Is “affirmative action” the solution? Will that be sufficient?
Does the solution require equalizing wealth? At every round?
Will some inequality still emerge?
How does this relate to school achievement (see Part 3, chapter 3.3)
Andre's purpose is to reconnect people to their Dignity and Honor in Being Human.