More than you probably ever wanted to know about dominance hierarchies and sexual currency in prisons.
Nonetheless, fascinating from an anthropological and political angle. In any sub-society that develops and exists at least somewhat separated from regular, public society (such as we have constituted it), the residents construct their own rules, roles, and hierarchies.
More often than not, though, depending on the nature of the members (and the environment, their reasons for being there, etc.) the rules, roles, and hierarchies are based on similar social rules to those in regular, public society, but tend to be more simplified and aggressive. (Think prison, the military, etc.)
Dominance is really the strongest shaping thread running through any of these sub-societies, real or imagined (think Lord of the Flies, any post-Apocalyptic movie, etc.). They often don’t get past the lower levels of Maslow’s hierarchy, due to scarce resources, frequent danger, or what have you. I imagine moments indicative of the higher, more “genteel” levels are all the sweeter for their scarcity and the difficulty/danger in achieving them.
Of course, the aforementioned “regular, public society” bears scrutiny as well. I think it could quite easily be argued that, to some degree, we’re so rich, fat, and safe that we’ve shot right off the top of the hierarchical pyramid and are cycling back around into a strange sort of savagery down at the base, while still inhabiting and enjoying the still-existing environment of plenty. Ahh, cultural evolution.
Ahh well, as history has taught us, everything crumbles eventually.