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Nature and characteristics of Competition

1. Scarcity as a condition of competition: Wherever there are commonly desired goods and services, there is competition. Infact economics starts with its fundamental proposition that while human wants are unlimited the resources that can satisfy these wants are strictly limited. Hence people compete for the possession of these limited resources. As Hamilton has pointed out competition is necessitated by a population of insatiable wants and a world of stubborn and inadequate resources.

2. Competition is continuous: it is found virtually in every area of social activity and social interaction- particularly, competition for status, wealth and fame is always present in almost all societies.

3. Competition is a cause of social change: Competition is a cause of social change in that; it causes persons to adopt new forms of behavior in order to attain desired ends. New forms of behavior involve inventions and innovations which naturally bring about social change.

4. Competition may be personal or impersonal: Competition is normally directed towards a goal and not against any individual. Some times, it takes place without the actual knowledge of other's existence. It is impersonal as in the case of civil service examination in which the contestants are not even aware of one another's identity. Competition may also be personal as when two individuals contest for election to an office. As competition becomes more personal it leads to rivalry and shades into conflict. Competition in the social world is largely impersonal.

5. Competition is always governed by norms: Competition is not limitless nor is it un- regulated. There is no such thing as unrestricted competition. Such a phrase is contradiction in terms. Moral norms or legal rules always govern and control competition. Competitors are expected to use fair tactics and not cut throat devices.

Some sociologists have also spoken of cultural competition. It may take place between two or more cultural groups. Human history provides examples of such a competition for example; there has always been a keen competition between the culture of the native and that of the invaders. Like cooperation, competition occurs at personal, group, and organizational levels. People competing for affection, a promotion, or public office all are examples of personal competition. The competitors are likely to know one another and to regard others defeat as essential to the attainment of their own goals.

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