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Schismogenesis literally means "creation of division". The term derives from the Greekwords skhisma "cleft" (borrowed into English as schism, "division into opposing factions"), and genesis "generation, creation" (deriving in turn from gignesthai "be born or produced, creation, a coming into being").

The concept of schismogenesis was developed by the anthropologist, cyberneticsphilosopherand spiritual ecologist Gregory Batesonin the 1930s, to account for certain forms of social behavior between groups. Analogous to Émile Durkheim's concepts of mechanical and organic solidarity (see functionalism), Bateson's posited a symmetrical form of schismogenic behavior that consisted of a competitive relationship between categorical equals (e. g. rivalry) and complementary schismogenesis between categorical unequals (e. g. dominance and submission). Bateson's specific contribution was to suggest that certain concrete ritual behaviors either inhibited or stimulated the schismogenic relationship in its various forms. In his earlier formulations, Bateson tied the notion to that of ethos.

Steven Feld (1994, p.265-271), apparently in response to R. Murray Schafer's schizophonia and borrowing the term from Bateson, employs schismogenesis to name the recombination and recontextualization of sounds split from their sources.

Complimentary Schismogenesis: To explain how the styles between women and men can drive each other to more exaggerated forms of behavior. A split is created, in a complementary way. Two people who have different styles (of communication, personality, behavior) end up exhibiting more exaggerated forms of that different behavior than they would if they were not encountering someone with an opposite style.

as noted by Deborah Tannen, Professor of Sociolinguisticsat Georgetown University, Washington, D.C.

opposite ritual conversational interplay


Bateson, Gregory. Naven. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1936. 2nd edition, Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1958.

Tannen, Deborah. ?He Said, She Said; Exploring the Different Ways Men and Women Communicate? Portable Professor: Linguistics. Barnes & Noble Audio Lecture Series. 2004de:Schismogenese

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