Friends, acquaintances and strangers behave differently with respect to the three dimensions of society.
These differences are summarised in the following table and explained below.
- Political dimension. This scarcely exists. Among friends there are no power relations. Some may be respected and listened to in particular situations, but none are allowed to put themselves above others. There is equality.
- Economic dimension. There is no concept of debt or of the exact measuring out of how to pay someone back for a service they have provided. Instead, there is an attitude of share-and-share-alike. Everybody pools what they have and all get equal benefit from the common stock. This has been called 'primitive communism'. In sum, there is sharing.
- Social dimension. People know each other on the most intimate terms, often as close relatives or at least as very close friends. Their loyalty to each other is based on this direct emotional bond. What connects the members of the group is personal contact.
- Political dimension. This is relatively weak, but certain people have influence over others, obtained through the force of their personality. They must work hard to keep up their authority over networks of clients whom they place under their obligation either with material support or by brokering activities on their behalf. It is their personal qualities and activities that cause them to be listened to. The ability to determine the behaviour of others is based on prestige.
- Economic dimension. People trust each other and do not demand immediate repayment for goods or services that they might have supplied. Nevertheless, there is a requirement that exact repayment should be made in the long run. People who have been given help owe something to those who helped them. The system of exchange is based on a concept of credit.
- Social dimension. People know each other by sight. Even if they are not friends directly, they are connected through others. They share a way of life down to every detail of language, dress and custom. They call the same general area home. They participate in the same festivals and public activities. There is a sense of community.
- Political dimension. Some people have power over others, based not on personal charisma but on the threat of force. There is a pyramid or hierarchy of power and power-holders are supported by the rest of the hierarchy, so that power can be assigned to the very young or old or others who could not secure it on their own behalf. Since the hierarchy mobilises to protect itself and imposes its will rather than merely exerting influence, power is experienced as domination.
- Economic dimension. People are not prepared to give credit to those they cannot be sure of meeting ever again. When they give each other services they require immediate satisfaction in the form of a counter-service of equivalent value, and they expect nothing further in future. Every transaction comprises a balanced and completed exchange.
- Social dimension. People do not necessarily share things in common. They may dress differently, speak differently, behave differently. Their sense of home may be different. In so far as they feel part of one group it is by acknowledge loyalty to a flag, a figurehead, a nation or some other abstraction.