I am working with a clinical psychiatrist friend on the concept of what I call the agapic need in humans. We are working on a paper (book?) looking at agape and human groupings from an anthropological & psychological perspective.
1) Thoughts on agape. The human urge to associate with other humans (& pets?) seems hard-wired into us. During the Long Paleolithic (2.3 million years) the human species lived in small loose associations of kin, affines & friends – the hunting & gathering band. fascinating
2) They also formed networks between bands, alliances, as it were, some based on marriage ties, but others grounded in the urge to exchange gifts. These are early urges to connect, to participate in human relations beyond the immediate band, which, in itself, was intense.
3) Norms of sharing were enforced through gossip & the example of elders on the youth (see GREED UNBOUND). This lasted till the development of stored food wealth.
4) This happened among a few Paleolithic hunting-gathering-fishing groups that could dry fish, but on a more widespread basis, did not happen until the Agricultural Revolution & the domestication of herd animals.
5) That led to larger than the band groups & sedentary societies – farmers tied to fields & eventually development of agricultural cities – walled for defense e.g., Jericho of the Bible, but many others (earliest in Natufian society).
6) Larger associations put strain on urge to participate in small group life & 2 things happened to provide agape like in the band: (1) formal kin food production groups evolved, but also (2) the emergence of sodalities (cults & secret societies).
7) These smaller groups–lineage & sodality–gave us opportunity for face-to-face contact with loved ones & associates who shared common interests.
8) The emergence of large-scale cities & modern life has put even greater stress on what I'm going to term “the agapic need.” Nevertheless, humans were not content to put up with large-scale living & went on to develop all sorts of smaller groups.
9) Just a few examples would be prison gangs, street gangs, church groups, sports clubs & on & on. Twitter & Facebook are the latest cyber examples.