All societies have customs or procedures that, organized on behalf of territorial groups, result in decision making and the resolution of disputes. These ways of creating and maintaining social order and coping with social disorder vary from society to society.
Societies with a band type of political organization are composed of fairly, small, usually nomadic group. Each of these bands is politically autonomous, the band being the largest group that acts as political unit. Authority within the band is usually informal. Societies with band organization generally are egalitarian hunter-gatherers. But band organization may not have been typical of food collectors in the distant past. View slide
Societies with tribal organization are similar to those with band in being egalitarian. But in contrast with band societies, they generally are food producers, have a higher population density, and are more sedentary. Tribal organization is defined by the presence of groupings, such as clans and age-sets, that can integrate more than one local group into a larger whole. View slide
The personal qualities of leaders in tribal societies seem to be similar to the qualities of leaders in the United States, with one major difference U.S. leaders are generally wealthier than others in their society.
Chiefdom organization differs from tribal organization in having formal authority structures that integrate multicommunity political units. Compared with societies with tribal organization, societies with chiefdoms are more densely populated and their communities are more permanent. In contrast to “big men” in tribal societies, who generally have to earn their privileges by their personal qualities, chiefs generally hold their positions permanently. Most chiefdom societies have social ranking.
A state has been defined as political unit composed of many communities and having a centralized government with the authority to make and enforce laws, collect taxes, and draft men for military service. In state societies, the government tries to maintain a monopoly on the use of physical force.
In addition, states are generally characterized by class stratification, intensive agriculture ( the high productivity of which presumably allows the emergence of cities), commercial exchange, a high degree of economic and other specialization, and intensive foreign trade. The rulers of a state cannot depend forever on the use or threat of force to maintain their power, the people must believe that the rulers are legitimate or have the right to govern.
Degree of political participation varies in the societies studied by anthropologist, just as among modern nation-states. Degree of political participation seems as well as in modern democratic nation-states, but not in those in between, such as feudal states and preindustrial empires.
Many societies lack specialized offices and institutions for dealing with conflict. Yet all societies have peaceful, regularized ways of handling at least certain disputes. Avoidance, community action, and negotiation and mediation are more common in simpler societies.
Ritual apology occurs frequently in chiefdoms. Oaths and ordeals tend to occur in complex societies in which political officials lack power to enforce judicial decisions. Adjudication is more likely in stratified, more complex societies. Capital punishment seems to exist in nearly all societies, from the simplest to the most complex.
People are likely to resort to violence when regular , effective alternative means of resolving a conflict are not available. Violence can occur between individuals, within communities, and between communities. Violence that occurs between political entities such as communities, districts, or nations is generally referred to as warfare.
The type of warfare varies in scope and complexity from society to society. Preindustrial societies with higher warfare frequencies are likely to have had a history of unpredictable disasters that destroyed food supplies. More often than not, societies with one type of violence have others.