Articles, Class, Gender, SocioGram
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O, Save the King! Chess and Social Conflict

Image from https://www.thechesspiece.com/

Chess and Social Conflict

by Trisha Sanico

Black and white. Chess, seen as a fight between two opposing kingdoms, reflects the clash between groups in society. The photo showing a white king standing on top of two black rooks emphasizes how one race in society can be more favored than another race. Ever wonder why the white pieces always get the first move? The same photo also illustrates gender conflict.

The white queen, for instance, seems to bow down to the white king – a situation that depicts a patriarchal structure. The strategy in chess of protecting the king further deepens the patriarchal image. The queen, for example, may be the most versatile chess piece but it will go to the death, so to speak, to save the king from being captured by the opposing force.

Like slaves to men, women subordinate and even sacrifice themselves to men. Thus, using the social conflict approach, then, one can see that the old-time favorite game is more than just a battle of wits but a symbolic struggle for dominance where one group, using whatever resources it can muster, seeks to overpower the other and show us, again and again, that the more powerful always reigns supreme.

Archived: Department of Sociology and Anthropology blog.

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