Sociopolitical Anthropology

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Egalitarian society. Ranked Society. Stratified Society. Bands. Tribes. Chiefdoms. States

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Sociopolitical Anthropology

  1. 1. Sociopolitical Anthropology Power, Social Control, and Society
  2. 2. Defining Sociopolitical Anthropology <ul><li>Basic definition: </li></ul><ul><li>The cross-cultural study of </li></ul><ul><li>Social organization </li></ul><ul><li>Informal social control </li></ul><ul><li>Governance by formal or informal means </li></ul><ul><li>Social control by law or custom </li></ul>
  3. 3. Social control entails <ul><li>Groupings by </li></ul><ul><li>Gender </li></ul><ul><li>Age </li></ul><ul><li>Associations </li></ul><ul><li>Social class </li></ul><ul><li>Political and legal arrangements. </li></ul>
  4. 4. Grouping by Gender: <ul><li>Separation by gender commonplace </li></ul><ul><li>Iroquois: </li></ul><ul><li>Women: sedentary, collective, cultivators </li></ul><ul><li>Men: were transients: hunters, warriors, leaders </li></ul><ul><li>Mundurucu </li></ul><ul><li>Two sexes lived apart </li></ul><ul><li>Men lived in a single large house </li></ul><ul><li>Women had 2-3 houses near the men’s </li></ul>
  5. 5. Groupings by Gender: New Guinea <ul><li>Case studies: men’s houses, New Guinea </li></ul><ul><li>Boys reared initially in own household </li></ul><ul><li>At age 5 or 6, move into men’s houses. </li></ul><ul><li>Trained in warrior arts, dances, pig transactions </li></ul><ul><li>One outcome: homosexuality (Samia) </li></ul><ul><li>Boys avoid all heterosexual contact </li></ul><ul><li>They undergo inseminating rituals with men </li></ul>
  6. 6. Groupings by Age <ul><li>All societies are grouped by age </li></ul><ul><li>Childhood, adulthood, elderhood </li></ul><ul><li>Adolescence a modern contrivance </li></ul><ul><li>Age grades: Organized category based on age </li></ul><ul><li>Everyone goes through them in life </li></ul><ul><li>Age sets: Groups of individuals initiated into age grade simultaneously </li></ul><ul><li>Everyone goes through age grades together as an age set unit </li></ul>
  7. 7. Groupings by Age Grades: Tiriki of Kenya <ul><li>Age grades: Fixed 15-year categories </li></ul><ul><li>Functional categories </li></ul><ul><li>Warriors: Cattle raiders, defenders </li></ul><ul><li>Elder Warriors: solid citizens, councilmen </li></ul><ul><li>Judicial elders: judges, dispute mediators </li></ul><ul><li>Ritual elders: mediator between community and spirit world </li></ul><ul><li>Nonfunctional categories: youths, aged </li></ul>
  8. 8. Groupings by Age Sets: Tiriki of Kenya <ul><li>Organized into 15-year movable categories </li></ul><ul><li>Everyone initiated as a group </li></ul><ul><li>At every transition from one age grade to next </li></ul><ul><li>Each age set was named </li></ul><ul><li>At each move, eldest age set </li></ul><ul><li>Became the youngest age set 15 yrs later </li></ul>
  9. 9. Common Interest Associations <ul><li>Associations that result from act of joining </li></ul><ul><li>Secret societies derived from spiritual experience: Kachinas of Hopi, tobacco societies of Crow, many among Kwakiutl </li></ul><ul><li>Warrior societies </li></ul><ul><li>Social service: </li></ul><ul><li>Kiwanis to Rotary Clubs in U.S., elsewhere </li></ul><ul><li>Hopi rainmakers intended to benefit all. </li></ul>
  10. 10. Social Class: Overview <ul><li>General types (Fried) </li></ul><ul><li>Egalitarian societies: </li></ul><ul><li>Social systems with as many valued positions as person capable of filling them </li></ul><ul><li>Exceptions: age, gender, special characteristics </li></ul><ul><li>Ranked societies </li></ul><ul><li>Social systems with fewer valued status positions than those capable of filling them </li></ul><ul><li>Stratified societies </li></ul><ul><li>Minority control of strategic resources </li></ul>
  11. 11. Egalitarian Societies <ul><li>Individuals depend on ability alone for prestige </li></ul><ul><li>Big man of New Guinea </li></ul><ul><li>Anyone can become a big man </li></ul><ul><li>One dominates--but can be replaced </li></ul><ul><li>Not hereditary </li></ul><ul><li>Yanomamo </li></ul><ul><li>Headmen can persuade but not rule </li></ul><ul><li>Again can be replaced </li></ul>
  12. 12. Reverse Dominance Hierarchy: Myth and Reality <ul><li>Myth: Forager societies lack hierarchy </li></ul><ul><li>Reality: A few instances of inequality </li></ul><ul><li>Gender Inequality: highly variable </li></ul><ul><li>Private property: Pi ňon trees among Paiute </li></ul><ul><li>Foragers: latent individual inequality </li></ul><ul><li>Prevention: Watchful control by band and tribe </li></ul>
  13. 13. By Way of Introduction: Case Study <ul><li>“ Eating Christmas in the Kalahari” by Richard Lee </li></ul><ul><li>Lee conducted an ethnographic study of the Dobe !Kung during year </li></ul><ul><li>He gave the band a fattened ox to thank them </li></ul><ul><li>Reaction: Dobe ridiculed this gift </li></ul><ul><li>Lesson: the !Kung typically ridicule all unusually valuable game </li></ul>
  14. 14. Why This Bizarre Behavior? <ul><li>Tomazo’s answer: “Arrogance.” </li></ul><ul><li>“ When a young man kills much meat, </li></ul><ul><li>he thinks himself as a chief or big man </li></ul><ul><li>and the rest of us as his servants. </li></ul><ul><li>We cannot accept this. </li></ul><ul><li>Someday his pride will make him kill somebody. </li></ul><ul><li>So we always speak of his meat as worthless. </li></ul><ul><li>That way, we cool his heart and make him gentle.” </li></ul>
  15. 15. Lessons from This Tale <ul><li>Even bandsmen know about inequality </li></ul><ul><li>They fear domination by one man </li></ul><ul><li>Unusual gifts always involve some ulterior motive </li></ul><ul><li>So they denigrate this gifts </li></ul><ul><li>The reaction conforms to a model of reverse dominance hierarchy </li></ul>
  16. 16. Reverse Dominance Hierarchy: A Definition <ul><li>Primary Source: Boehm’s Hierarchy in the Forest </li></ul><ul><li>Definition: a collective reaction to </li></ul><ul><li>anyone’s attempt to dominate his fellows </li></ul><ul><li>Summary: “All men seek to rule </li></ul><ul><li>but if they cannot rule </li></ul><ul><li>they seek to be equal.” </li></ul><ul><li>— Harold Schneider, Economic Anthropologist </li></ul>
  17. 17. Reverse Dominance Hierarchy: Toward a Model <ul><li>Primary Source: Knauft: “Sociality versus Self-Interest in Human Evolution” Behavior and Brain Sciences. </li></ul><ul><li>Knauft postulates a U-Shaped Curve: </li></ul><ul><li>Nonhuman Primates: Moderate to Extreme Dominance </li></ul><ul><li>Bands and Tribes: Strong Egalitarianism </li></ul><ul><li>Chiefdoms and States: Ranking to Social Stratification </li></ul>
  18. 18. Reverse Dominance Hierarchy: Primate Ethological Evidence <ul><li>Rationale: Pongid-Hominid Divergence 6 m.y.a. </li></ul><ul><li>Dominance Evident in Hominoids </li></ul><ul><li>Chimpanzees: Coalition Politics </li></ul><ul><li>Bonobos: Female Hierarchies Passed to Sons </li></ul><ul><li>Male Linear Dominance is tempered by : </li></ul><ul><li>Behavioral Ambivalence (waa vocalization) </li></ul><ul><li>Coalitions of Subordinate Individuals </li></ul>
  19. 19. Reverse Dominant Hierarchy: Band/Tribal Egalitarianism <ul><li>Most Models: Effortless Egalitarianism </li></ul><ul><li>Reverse Dominance: You Have to Work at It </li></ul><ul><li>“ Upstart” Individuals Try to Dominate the Band/Tribe </li></ul><ul><li>Coalitions Suppress Every Such Attempt </li></ul><ul><li>Ridicule (!Kung “Insulting the Meat”) </li></ul><ul><li>Song Duels (Inuit/Eskimo—left photo) </li></ul><ul><li>Extreme Case: Homicide by Group-Selected Executioner </li></ul>
  20. 20. Ending Reverse Dominance Hierarchy: Food Surplus <ul><li>Bases of Food Surplus </li></ul><ul><li>Complex Foraging: Northwest Coast Indians </li></ul><ul><li>Advanced Pastoralists: Mongol Nomads </li></ul><ul><li>Neolithic Revolution </li></ul><ul><li>Intensive Cultivation </li></ul><ul><li>Nonfarm Specialization in </li></ul><ul><li>Crafts and Manufactures </li></ul><ul><li>Administration and Enforcement </li></ul><ul><li>Rise of an Elite </li></ul>
  21. 21. Ending Reverse Dominance Hierarchy: Population Density <ul><li>Populations increase </li></ul><ul><li>Beyond scope of kin-based control (Ur, Sumeria, left) </li></ul><ul><li>New control mechanism come into place </li></ul><ul><li>Extra-Familial groups take control </li></ul><ul><li>Anti-hierarchical mechanisms lose effectiveness </li></ul><ul><li>Circumscription ensures control. </li></ul>
  22. 22. Emergence of Stratification <ul><li>Manipulative Individuals/ Families </li></ul><ul><li>Form alliances (chimpanzee-like) </li></ul><ul><li>Play one faction against another </li></ul><ul><li>Form dynasties (bonobo-like) </li></ul><ul><li>Control over Life-Sustaining Resources </li></ul><ul><li>Water systems in semi-arid regions </li></ul><ul><li>Agricultural lands </li></ul><ul><li>Mechanisms of Taxation </li></ul><ul><li>Labor </li></ul><ul><li>Tribute </li></ul>
  23. 23. Rank(ed) Societies <ul><li>The numbers and kinds of positions are fixed </li></ul><ul><li>Examples </li></ul><ul><li>Kwakiutl (likeness of chief holding a copper: </li></ul><ul><li>Everyone is ranked </li></ul><ul><li>There is only one position from top down </li></ul><ul><li>Death demands a replacement for position </li></ul><ul><li>Missing: no monopoly over resources </li></ul><ul><li>Fish sources open to all </li></ul>
  24. 24. Stratified Societies <ul><li>Access to strategic resources is unequal </li></ul><ul><li>Examples </li></ul><ul><li>Water in irrigation societies </li></ul><ul><li>Land in patrimonial (feudal) societies </li></ul><ul><li>Claims to capital assets (stocks, bonds) in capitalist society </li></ul><ul><li>Capital: goods/services used for production </li></ul><ul><li>Money, stocks, bonds are also capital </li></ul>
  25. 25. Stratified Societies: India’s Castes as extreme case <ul><li>Castes : Closed Descent groups that </li></ul><ul><li>Lack mobility: once a peasant, always one </li></ul><ul><li>Are Endogamous: intermarriage forbidden </li></ul><ul><li>Maintain differential access to resources </li></ul>
  26. 26. Main (Varna) Castes in India <ul><li>Brahmins: priests </li></ul><ul><li>Kshatryas: warriors </li></ul><ul><li>Vaishyas (merchants, craftpersons) </li></ul><ul><li>Sudras (peasant, menial workers) </li></ul><ul><li>Untouchables (Hariian, Dalit) “Impure castes” </li></ul>
  27. 27. Stratified Societies: India’s other castes <ul><li>Impure castes: “Untouchables” (harijan) </li></ul><ul><li>Those who perform “impure” tasks such as leatherworking </li></ul><ul><li>Some come out only at night--”unseeables” </li></ul><ul><li>If harijan’s shadow falls on Brahmin. . . </li></ul><ul><li>Jatis: occupational subcastes </li></ul><ul><li>Likewise endogamous and closed </li></ul><ul><li>Jajman: provider of services to kamin </li></ul><ul><li>Kamin: receiver of services from jajman </li></ul>
  28. 28. Stratified Societies: Kachin of Burma (Officially Myanmar) <ul><li>Division of Kachin: Nobility, Aristocracy, Commoners </li></ul><ul><li>Marriage as reinforcement of stratum </li></ul><ul><li>Matrilateral cross-cousin marriage makes return impossible, because </li></ul><ul><li>Patrilateral cross-cousin marriage is not allowed </li></ul>
  29. 29. Mayu-Dama Relationship <ul><li>Wife givers: Mayu </li></ul><ul><li>Wife receivers: Dama </li></ul><ul><li>Mayu: gave wives to Dama </li></ul><ul><li>Who never could reciprocate </li></ul><ul><li>Aristocrats thus dominated nobles </li></ul><ul><li>Nobles thus dominated commoners </li></ul><ul><li>Exemplifies Mauss’s obligation to repay </li></ul>
  30. 30. Political Organization: Basic Principles <ul><li>Power vs Authority </li></ul><ul><li>Power: compliance by coercion or force </li></ul><ul><li>Authority: compliance by persuasion </li></ul><ul><li>Legitimacy: Beliefs rationalizing rule </li></ul><ul><li>Examples: Divine Right, Peoples Consent </li></ul><ul><li>Sanctions : reinforcements of behavior </li></ul><ul><li>Positive: rewards, recognition </li></ul><ul><li>Negative: punishment </li></ul>
  31. 31. Power versus Authority <ul><li>Extreme examples </li></ul><ul><li>Power: concentration camps: Auschwitz (above); Guantanamo (below) </li></ul><ul><li>Authority: !Kung, Inuit, Yanomamo </li></ul><ul><li>Neither is absolute </li></ul><ul><li>Dictatorships need to persuade: Nuremberg rallies, Mayday parades </li></ul><ul><li>Power is evenly distributed in nonstate cultures </li></ul>
  32. 32. Legitimacy as Justification for Political Order <ul><li>Justification necessary even in authoritarian states </li></ul><ul><li>Monarchies: the divine right to rule </li></ul><ul><li>Soviet Union: Socialist transition to communist economy </li></ul><ul><li>Nazi Germany: Racial purification; delivery of full-employment (Nuremberg rallies, above) </li></ul><ul><li>Democratic forms: consent by the governed (below, State of the Union) </li></ul>
  33. 33. Legitimacy: Samsara in India <ul><li>Justification for a given political order </li></ul><ul><li>India: Caste system is reinforced by </li></ul><ul><li>Samsara: A cosmic illusion marked by </li></ul><ul><li>Birth-and-death cycles </li></ul>
  34. 34. Legitimacy: Karma in India <ul><li>Karma: influenced by one’s act in all previous lives </li></ul><ul><li>Reward: rebirth in higher state </li></ul><ul><li>Punishment: rebirth in lower state </li></ul><ul><li>Affects all beings, from stone to humans to gods </li></ul>
  35. 35. Sociopolitical Organizations: General Typology <ul><li>Bands: Small, informal groups </li></ul><ul><li>Tribes: Segmentary groups integrated by some unifying factor </li></ul><ul><li>Chiefdoms: Group organized under a chief in a ranked society </li></ul><ul><li>State: Centralized political system with monopoly over legitimized force and its use. </li></ul>
  36. 36. Bands <ul><li>Small group of related households </li></ul><ul><li>Occupying a particular region </li></ul><ul><li>That gather periodically ad hoc </li></ul><ul><li>Do not yield sovereignty to larger group </li></ul><ul><li>Leadership </li></ul><ul><li>By persuasion (authority) </li></ul><ul><li>No permanent offices </li></ul><ul><li>Examples: !Kung, Inuit, Mbuti (left) </li></ul>
  37. 37. Tribes: <ul><li>Group of nominally independent communities </li></ul><ul><li>Occupying a specific region </li></ul><ul><li>Sharing common language & culture </li></ul><ul><li>Integrated by unifying factor </li></ul><ul><li>Examples: Yanomamo, Nuer </li></ul>
  38. 38. Tribes: Yanomamo <ul><li>Organized by two lineages </li></ul><ul><li>The two intermarry </li></ul><ul><li>Cement: bilateral cross-cousin marriage </li></ul><ul><li>External relations: levels of alliance </li></ul><ul><li>Trade --External marriage </li></ul><ul><li>Feasts </li></ul><ul><li>Leadership: informal, no office </li></ul><ul><li>Kaobawa: issues orders only if they will be obeyed (as when in war) </li></ul>
  39. 39. Tribes: Nuer <ul><li>Segmentary lineage </li></ul><ul><li>Nesting of smaller lineage into larger ones </li></ul><ul><li>A single maximal lineage </li></ul><ul><li>Geographical basis of segmentation </li></ul><ul><li>Warfare escalates with genealogy </li></ul><ul><li>Entire segmentary lineage unites against common enemy </li></ul><ul><li>Cause: circumscription </li></ul>
  40. 40. Tribes: Tiriki Age Grade and Sets <ul><li>Pan-Tribal Sodalities: Groups that cut across segments </li></ul><ul><li>Example: Age Grades and Sets </li></ul><ul><li>Age grades unify pantribal functions </li></ul><ul><li>Age sets unify people that carry out the functions </li></ul>
  41. 41. Chiefdoms <ul><li>Textbook: A regional polity in which </li></ul><ul><li>Two or more local groups </li></ul><ul><li>Are organized under a single chief </li></ul><ul><li>Who heads a ranked hierarchy of people </li></ul><ul><li>Chief as office </li></ul><ul><li>Office is permanent </li></ul><ul><li>“King is dead; long live king” </li></ul><ul><li>Requires rules of succession </li></ul>
  42. 42. Chiefdoms: Conical Clan <ul><li>Can have chiefs and subchiefs </li></ul><ul><li>When eldest sons are heirs </li></ul><ul><li>When subclans or lineages bud off. </li></ul><ul><li>Rank remains among </li></ul><ul><li>Descendant clans/lineages </li></ul><ul><li>Individuals within lineages </li></ul>
  43. 43. Chiefdoms: Kwakiutl <ul><li>Eldest son succeeds chief’ </li></ul><ul><li>Must validate claim by holding potlatch </li></ul><ul><li>All feasts have legal dimensions </li></ul><ul><li>Chief makes speech, presents dances </li></ul><ul><li>At end, distributes gifts that are </li></ul><ul><li>Appropriate to rank of guests </li></ul><ul><li>Guests give validation speeches </li></ul><ul><li>Praise behavior of new chief </li></ul><ul><li>Note appropriateness of gifts </li></ul>
  44. 44. States: Force as Prime Mover <ul><li>Defining Characteristics </li></ul><ul><li>A centralized political system </li></ul><ul><li>With power to coerce </li></ul><ul><li>The operating factor: </li></ul><ul><li>Monopoly over the use of </li></ul><ul><li>Legitimate physical force </li></ul><ul><li>Supports the apparatus of the state </li></ul><ul><li>Bureaucracy --Army and police </li></ul><ul><li>Law and legal codes </li></ul>
  45. 45. States: Derivative Features <ul><li>Administrative structure </li></ul><ul><li>Public services --Tax collection </li></ul><ul><li>Resource allocation --Foreign affairs </li></ul><ul><li>Delegation of force </li></ul><ul><li>Police, all levels --Armed force </li></ul><ul><li>Law </li></ul><ul><li>Civil (dispute resolution) </li></ul><ul><li>Regulatory (trade, economy) </li></ul><ul><li>Criminal (crime and punishment) </li></ul>
  46. 46. Law: Cross-Cultural Comparison <ul><li>Codified law: Formally defines wrong and specifies remedies </li></ul><ul><li>Customary law: Informal sanctions or dispute resolution </li></ul><ul><li>Restitution or Restorative law: emphasizes dispute resolution, damage restitution </li></ul><ul><li>Retributive law: emphasizes punishment for crimes committed </li></ul>
  47. 47. Case Studies: Restitution <ul><li>Nuer: Leopard-skin chief </li></ul><ul><li>Function: mediate disputes; leopard wrap identifies role </li></ul><ul><li>Cannot force or enforce an agreement </li></ul><ul><li>Authority is spiritual </li></ul><ul><li>Zapotec in Talea, Mexico </li></ul><ul><li>Function: hear cases and negotiate </li></ul><ul><li>Recommend settlement </li></ul><ul><li>Enforce agreement by community </li></ul>
  48. 48. Case Studies: Retribution <ul><li>Criminal Law </li></ul><ul><li>Murder, Robbery, Others </li></ul><ul><li>Civil Law </li></ul><ul><li>Consumer Law and Small Courts </li></ul><ul><li>Final Say: Judge or Arbitrator </li></ul><ul><li>Limitation: Sheer Numbers of Cases </li></ul>
  49. 49. Conclusion <ul><li>States: Economy, society, and polity are separate </li></ul><ul><li>Stateless Societies: The three tend to be fused </li></ul><ul><li>Social control integral to all levels </li></ul>

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