Sociopolitical Anthropology
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Sociopolitical Anthropology



Egalitarian Societies. Ranked Societies. Stratified Societies. Band Societies. Tribal Scieties. Chiefsoms. States.

Egalitarian Societies. Ranked Societies. Stratified Societies. Band Societies. Tribal Scieties. Chiefsoms. States.



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Sociopolitical Anthropology Sociopolitical Anthropology Presentation Transcript

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