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cultural anthropology_chapter8notes

cultural anthropology_chapter8notes - C hapter 8 Political...

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Chapter 8: Political Systems What Is "the Political"? The anthropological approach to political systems and organization is global and comparative. Anthropological studies have reveled substantial variation in power (formal and informal), authority, and legal systems in different societies and communities o Power is the ability to exercise one's will over others, while authority is the socially approved use of power. Political Organization – the portions of social organization that specifically relate to the individuals or groups that manage the affairs of public policy or seek to control the appointment or activities of those individuals or groups o Sociopolitical organization involves the regulation or management of relations among groups and their representatives. Political regulation includes such processes as decision making, social control, and conflict resolution. Types and Trends Elman Service developed a typology with four kinds of sociopolitical organization: band, tribe, chiefdom, and state. o Although there is archaeological evidence for early bands, tribes, and chiefdoms that existed before the first states appeared, today none of these polities can be studied as a self-contained form of political organization, since all exist within the context of nation-states and are subject to state control o Bands – small kin-based groups found among foragers o Tribes – food-producing society with rudimentary political structure Had economies based on non-intensive food production (horticulture and pastoralism), lived in villages, were organized into kin groups Page | 1
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based on common descent (clans and lineages), and lacked a formal government. o Chiefdom – society governed by a chief; larger than a tribe but smaller or simpler than a state Kin-based like bands and tribes, but characterized by a permanent political structure and differential access to resources (some people had more wealth, prestige, and power than others did) o State – society with a formal government and socioeconomic stratification Although Service's typology is too simple to account for the full range of political diversity and complexity known to archaeologists and ethnographers, it does highlight some significant contrasts in sociopolitical organization, especially those between states and nonstates. o In bands and tribes—unlike states, which have clearly visible governments—political organization was not separate and distinct from the total social order. o There are many correlations between economy and sociopolitical organization. Foragers tended to have band organization Horticulturalists and pastoralists tended to have tribal organization Chiefdoms and nonindustrial states usually had agricultural economies, although herding was important in some Middle Eastern chiefdoms In general, food production was accompanied by larger, denser populations and more complex economies, resulting in new regulatory
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