This paper (open access) is from a special issue of PNAS on a colloquium about Adaptation and Complex Design. It emphasizes the importance of kin selection in explaining how insect societies function. I'd have to say that the same applies to humans, but in humans, it is probably so ingrained to think of others in the group as kin and then function on a group selection mode along with some reciprocity thrown in, that even in our groups in these novel times where individuals are more distantly related (large ethnic groups, nation states) we function in what appears to be a group selected way. Reciprocity of course largely figures in there also. Their mention of non-reproducing individuals reminds me of reproductive leveling in humans (monogamy) as mentioned by Sam Bowles in his Science paper (here, here, here)
Insect societies as divided organisms: The complexities of purpose and cross-purpose
Joan E. Strassmann, and David C. Queller
PNAS May 15, 2007 vol. 104 Suppl. 1 8619-8626
Abstract: Individual organisms are complex in a special way. The organization and function of their parts seem directed toward a purpose: the survival and reproduction of that individual. Groups of organisms are different. They may also be complex, but that is usually because their parts, the individual organisms, are working at cross-purposes. The most obvious exception to this rule is the social insects. Here, the individuals cooperate in complex ways toward the common goal of the success of the colony, even if it means that most of them do not reproduce. Kin selection theory explains how this can evolve. Nonreproductive individuals help in the reproduction of their kin, who share and transmit their genes. Such help is most favored when individuals can give more to their kin than they give up by not reproducing directly. For example, they can remain at their natal site and help defend a valuable resource ("fortress defenders"), or they can ensure that at least one adult survives to care for helpless young ("life insurers"). Although kin selection explains the extensive cooperation and common purpose of social insect colonies, it also predicts a certain amount of cross-purpose and conflict behavior. Kin selection has predicted how workers and queens disagree over sex ratios, how potential queens struggle to be the colony's head, how workers try to produce sons, and how other workers often prevent them. Kin selection analysis of cooperation and conflict in social insects is one of the outstanding achievements of evolutionary theory.