Trophic Pyramids In The System Of Social Hierarchies: Principles, Evolution, Trends


The effectiveness of social communication is directly related to the natural motives and needs of a person. It is in this form that it becomes the basis for stratification and methods of hierarchizing social space. The driving force behind these processes is the political regulation of food satisfaction, which is determined by the individual's place in the social system. Biology, ethology, biopolitics, studying the forms of interaction of living organisms, reveal a direct similarity between the levels of the natural trophic pyramid and the social-class structure of society. The physical availability of food and its symbolic counterparts is becoming a decisive factor in the evolution of social hierarchies. If in natural systems the basic level of the ecological pyramid is associated with the vital activity of producers, then in social systems their counterparts are workers who produce material and spiritual benefits. The presence of producers in the natural environment determines the very possibility of the existence of predatory consumers, which are also reproduced within social systems in the form of the “middle class” and the political elite. The evolution of civilizational biopolitical systems is associated with the advancement of the "middle class" as the leading layer of media consumers, organizing communication at all levels of the social system. As the main product produced by the “middle class”, the media service extends to all levels of the social system in order to control both official and everyday communication, as well as to impose relevant and high-tech means of supporting social systems.

Keywords: Biopoliticsfoodmiddle classservicesocial communicationtrophic hierarchy


Social stratification is the basis for the differentiation of individuals and social groups, and the “asymmetry of social hierarchies” (Amaral & Loken, 2016, p. 483) indicates the nature of power attitudes to implement a rigid demarcation of the areas of existence of the inhabitants with the subsequent consolidation of institutional boundaries between them. The imperial ideologeme “divide and conquer” is a reflection of the essence of social pyramids based on the trophic determination of individuals living together. It is the result of the ambiguous history of civilization and reproduces the most significant statist principles of its formation. The repressive-analytical role of power is expressed in the decomposition of the symbolic experience of archaic genera and the forceful transformation of their trophic areas, which later formed the basis of imperial legislation in the system of Roman private law. Forced dismemberment of archaic communities leads to the formation of an alienated state as a social machine, for which each individual or group is only its formal elements. The desymbolized way of being of the state is compensated by continuous symbolic stimulations of the social environment, which, in an inflationary perspective, are replaced by religious and then ideological simulations of social unity. It is provided not only by the production activism of individuals, but also by the topology of their socio-production specialization, in the cell of the social matrix allocated for them. State power, gravitating towards the imperial experience, eventually becomes transnational and begins to cultivate and sacralize the liberal doctrine as the only way to “produce subjectivity and control the population” (Winant, 2019, p. 107). Unified production requirements lead to the massization and stratification of individuals, depriving them of individual responsibility and freedom, which are replaced by trophic-economic expediency. This expresses the essence of the Western way of life and its ideas about liberal freedom “in its extreme forms of inequality and the simple pursuit of happiness” (Lo, 2018, p. 29).

Problem Statement

The search for effective mechanisms of social management inevitably leads to the study of biotic prototypes and hierarchical principles of organizing social communication. The civilizational structuring of social space is based on an analogy with natural trophic hierarchies with the essential difference that, in contrast to natural hierarchies, the social structure presupposes an unconditional, unnatural subordination of producing producers to consumer managers.

Research Questions

Based on the formulated problem, a number of tasks can be distinguished:

3.1. consider the features of the transfer of biotic methods of interspecies interaction in the system in the hierarchy of public administration;

3.2. identify functional differences between the middle class as a biotic mediator and media operator of the system of social hierarchies.

Purpose of the Study

The article is devoted to the consideration of the role of trophic regulation in unconscious communicative strategies for the formation of social hierarchies.

Research Methods

The analysis of a scientific problem involves the involvement of research in the field of social psychology, ethology, sociobiology, socioanthropology, which emphasize the interdisciplinary nature of the research. It is in this methodological strategy that it becomes possible to identify the natural trophic determinants of all models of social communication and the ways of their transformation in the institutional practices of civilization. This approach is new for the philosophical and humanitarian sciences, which determines the attraction of analytical experience in the study of social reality, accumulated within the framework of social Darwinism, the Frankfurt School, Freudomarskism, neo-Marxism, postmodernism.


The flourishing of liberal-democratic values, on which the modern Western world stands, turns into a qualitative exacerbation of social stratification and hierarchization of the social environment. These trends emerged at the end of the 19th century and turned into a new topology of social structure based on the continuously increasing imbalance between production and consumption. Based on this contradiction, the social “top” managed to reduce individual differences to the level of prescribed trophic needs, forcing “consumers to differ from others vertically in the social hierarchy through products that signal that they are better than others” (Ordabayeva & Fernandes, 2018, p. 227) ... In the current system, new social “players” have emerged: those producing productive “lower classes”, servile "media” -consummates, as well as excessively and demonstratively consuming predators of the "upper classes".

In contrast to natural trophic pyramids, power creates a new format of food relations. A producing producer acts as an analogue of the lower levels of the social system, and always represents a specific production function assigned to him, associated with the creation of a share of social wealth. Social consumers are individuals, groups and entire communities that create and reproduce a system of artificial regulation of the movement of “food” and wealth throughout the hierarchical space of the socio-trophic pyramid, “legitimizing myths that promote a dominant-subordinate form of intergroup relations” (Mavrozacharakis & Georgia, 2018). The revealed function of social hierarchies allows "consumers" to reduce all scenarios of human communication with the surrounding natural and social world to unconscious patterns of their trophic consumption. It is the “consumers” managers who form in the social-hierarchical space the “rules of the game” into inequality, which should be interpreted “as a criticism of the colonial foundations of modern European philosophy and an attempt to imagine a different state of nature that goes beyond the dogmas of the social contract tradition” (Luisetti, 2016 , p. 108). This class assigns the ability, at its own discretion, to determine the measure of satisfaction of the physical or spiritual needs of individuals representing different levels of the social hierarchy in order to maintain its dominant position in any configuration (Aiello et al., 2018). Thus, the communication of social producers and consumers is formed around the search, production, distribution, exchange and consumption of social benefits. At the same time, it should be remembered that the lower levels of the hierarchy are focused on material consumption, while the upper ones are capable of indirect, virutal consumption of the entire lifestyle of the lower layers, which, over time, acquires a demonstrative character.

The balance of production and consumption at the end of the New Age is radically changing, giving way to servile service as an institutional compensation for the lost natural skills and abilities. Against this background, the top “executives-consumers” are losing the skills of an independent search for “food”, and the producing producers are deprived of the opportunity to naturally distinguish between “edible / inedible” and “natural / unnatural”. After World War II, this situation is finally formed and the transnational power provokes the emergence of a special social stratum, which is charged with the responsibility of ideological delimitation of the "natural" and "unnatural".

It is significant that the class of the highest "consumers" has always gravitated towards conservatism, and its functioning was associated with a circle of close relatives. The transition from traditional to transnational power demanded an unconscious repression of rudimentary family ties and their replacement by a circle of corporate “relatives” who made up a local trophic pyramid and were ready to “play” according to internal trophic rules. With unlimited trophic possibilities, top corporate consumers lose their natural "flair" in search of "food" And social producers who produce the main wealth and must form the basis of consumption often find themselves deprived not only of food itself, but also of the possibility of choosing it. The socio-trophic dictatorship of "consumers" forces "producers" to consume natural and unnatural items, which creates a symbolic illusion of food and social saturation. In this “lack of freedom” there is a functional identity of the extreme links of the socio-trophic pyramid: the “upper classes” are not given “to choose”, therefore they are doomed to eternal “tasting”, and the “lower classes”, captivated by the logic of “envious comparison,” unconsciously compensate for the absence of symbolic capital the accumulation of its bodily, calorie-energy "analogue", which creates the illusion of significance and status "weight" in the cells of the trophic pyramid occupied by them. Since the trophic extremes of the consumer society converge, its only administrative "active" layer is the media "consumers" who take on the organizational and managerial "mission" of maintaining the functions of the entire socio-trophic system.

Medium-level consumables are formative for the corporate or state pyramid as a socio-trophic and ideological-doctrinal buffer between producing-consuming “producers” and unrestrictedly consuming top “consumers”, creating and implementing the illusion of the “middle class” as the only guarantee of “economic stability and endurance ” (Mavrozacharakis & Georgia, 2018, p. 1) society. “A similar function is attributed to the notorious 'middle class'. The task is to find this social “motor”, slightly clean it and tweak it, and then it will start working on its own without our help, help to jump forward and, mind you, with minimal cost ” (Radaev, 1998, p. 74). The mission of the “middle class” to decorate the activity mediocrity of both the "top" and "bottom" of the socio-trophic pyramid assumes its unofficial right to regulate the areas and scenarios of eating away the highest "consumers" and the "producers" subject to them.

Such a situation demonstrates an unconscious, reflex-trophic scenario of communication of the entire social system, and the trophism of the state pyramid eventually loses its connection to consumed resources. Since it focuses first on the real and then on the virtual social status of the "eating", then the "food" itself loses its natural and material value, which is replaced by its social decor, its demonstrative and status consumption. The middle class of "consumers" is historically the first social institution fully formed around the ideological manipulations of the trophic needs of the "top" and "bottom". Therefore, its institutional evolution testifies that “we are no longer talking about a simple reform of the institutions of society, but about socio-cultural transformation” (Esposito, 2019, p. 317), within which the “middle class” acts as a criterion for the “development” of both individual social institutions and the entire consumer civilization.

We must agree with Y. Habermas, who discovered the meditative nature of power (Habermas, 1984), due to which “consumers” of a higher order or primary “producers” get the opportunity to organize their interaction in the sphere of production and consumption. And since the gap between the levels of the social hierarchy is constantly increasing, media accounts are able to increase quantitatively and qualitatively due to ideological manipulation of the inadequacy of satisfying the basic needs of the lower and upper levels of the social hierarchy (Nekita, 2019).

The biovital atrophy of the social poles of the consumer society condemns its “top” and “bottom” to passive expectation of managerial “mercy” from the side of media consultions. This gives them the opportunity not only to increase quantitatively, but also to increase the level of bureaucratization of social communication, which eventually becomes its only content. This tendency makes it possible to concentrate in the hands of bureaucratic media judgments all possible forms of social movement of matter, which testifies to the totalitarian nature of the claims of this social stratum, both in relation to the management system and society as a whole.

The media-legal bureaucracy, ideologically promoting its social significance, broadly reproduces the unconscious illusions of the “top” and “bottom” about the exclusiveness of its mission to maintain the communicative functionality of the entire socio-trophic system. The further inflationary mission of the management of the "middle class" is associated with the production, service and imposition of new communication and trophic needs, as a factor in expanding the infrastructure of its media-legal domination, turning into a "service civilization" predicted by Fourastié (1965). At the same time, the main function of the "civilization of services" is the management of the most consumer "bureaucracy, as well as its production and promotion of power as the main sacred product of the" consumer society".


Mature social systems are characterized by the presence of conscious and unconscious elements. The crisis of rationalism has actualized the need for institutional management of the unconscious motives of individual and collective behavior. The basal trophic principle of communication turned out to be the most primitive and effective. By artificially creating food shortages, the authorities effectively differentiated the social space and formed a hierarchical topology of functional dependence in the system of satisfying food needs. The illusion of a chronic lack of food resources gives rise to an effective system of social management, which is concentrated in the “average” consumer level of the socio-trophic pyramid. This situation fixes the degradation of material production and the classical model of political power serving it. Consumental bureaucrats become the social force that transforms service into the leading production relation of the consumer society, crowding out the available cultural experience. The dominance of the service sector testifies to the formation of the space of servile simulation of reality as a new scenario for imitation of the archetypal dialectic of consciousness and activity. The situation is significantly aggravated by the explosive growth of "high" technologies, which previously generally “seemed to be politically neutral” (Druick, 2020, p. 63). The ubiquitous high-tech household devices have transformed the classic "master-slave" contradictions, democratized production and trophic-consumer everyday life. The model of a “smart home” and an anthropomorphic robot have become symbols of consumer dreams of media consumers.

Therefore, the everyday life of the man in the street modeled today in the projects of the future, relying on the “bioinformational reconfiguration of human and non-human forms of life” (Tamminen & Deibel, 2019, p. 17), obeys the civilizational logic of communication of media-legal “masters” with their high-tech “slaves”, each time “The importance of targeting social dominance” (Stewart & Tran, 2018, p. 299). And the desire of the modern man in the street to equip his daily life with automated, electronic and computerized devices as much as possible indicates that each consumer, relying on the “post-disciplinary nature” of molecular biopolitics” (Lindner, 2020, p. 71), unconsciously reproduces the most primitive socio-trophic connections , selfishly used by the authorities for their own biopolitical modernization.


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Nekita, A., & Malenko, S. (2021). Trophic Pyramids In The System Of Social Hierarchies: Principles, Evolution, Trends. In E. V. Toropova, E. F. Zhukova, S. A. Malenko, T. L. Kaminskaya, N. V. Salonikov, V. I. Makarov, A. V. Batulina, M. V. Zvyaglova, O. A. Fikhtner, & A. M. Grinev (Eds.), Man, Society, Communication, vol 108. European Proceedings of Social and Behavioural Sciences (pp. 738-744). European Publisher.