Chapters 10-12 Social Stratification and Political Organization
Norms Laws Social Control • Exists to ensure a certain degree of social conformity • Some people may resist conformity
Most non-state societies have a comparatively high degree of personal security…why? • Small size of the bands and villages • The central importance of domestic groups and kinship in their social organization • The absence of marked inequalities in access to technology and resources
Descent Groups and Social Organization Beyond Kin • Clans and other complex descent groups expand the basic family relationships of kin groups to provide a wider set of social structures welded together by obligations • Sources of conflict between these larger groups are numerous • Practices and institutions to mitigate these conflicts become necessary
Social Control in Small-scale Societies • In foraging societies, formal laws are rare • Punishment is often through naming and shaming • Punishment is legitimized through belief in supernatural forces • Capital punishment is rare
Social Control in States • Increased specialization of tasks relating to law and order • Process is more formal and based on law • Use of capital punishment
Morality and law Bases of power Abuses of power Political Anthropology Who has it; who doesn’t Governments Political Anthropologists address the area of human behavior and thought related to power Degrees of power Social conflict and social control Political and religious power
Critical legal anthropologists examine the role of law in maintaining power relationships through discrimination against indigenous people, women and minorities. Social Inequality and the Law
Why Kin Groups Aren’t The Answer to All Our Problems • Optimal Size of Kin Groups is small, about 200 people • Kinship ethics don’t always levy adequate sanctions (there are social reasons against it) • Long-term and immediate problems in relationships between kin groups are difficult to solve: Intermarriage is the only really permanent “glue”
Social Conflict • Interpersonal conflict • Banditry • Feuding • Ethnic conflict • Revolution • Warfare • Nonviolent conflict
Interpersonal Conflict • Covers verbal arguments to murder • Between neighbors over resources or territory, e.g. Gwembe Valley • Between neighbors over dogs, e.g. middle-class Americans
Feuding • The most universal form of inter-group aggression • Based on revenge • Some cultures experience more feuding because of economic change
Yanomami RAID TO CAPTURE WOMEN FIERCE MALE BABIES FAVORED SHORTAGE OF FEMALES The Waiteri Complex POLYGYNY FEMALE INFANTICIDE
Nonviolent Conflict • Gandhi • Non-violent resistance • Public fasting • Strikes • Celibacy • Weapons of the weak • Foot dragging, desertion, false compliance, humor
Mobilizing Public Opinion • Within Kin-Based systems disputes are settled on the basis of who has the most kin support (public opinion) • The general principle of dispute settlement, and leadership, is mobilization of public opinion • How far claims can be pressed depends on an individual’s willingness to suffer social penalties and his/her social backing • Example: Inuit Song Contests
Social Control of Behavior Ways societies deal with abnormal behavior and conflict: • Gossip and ridicule • Fear of witchcraft accusations • Avoidance • Supernatural sanctions
Law • Law is found in every society. • In complex societies, functions of law belong to legal institutions, such as courts. • Law addresses conflicts that would otherwise disrupt community life.
Aboriginal Youth and Justice • More likely to receive the most severe outcomes from criminal justice decision-makers than white youth • More likely to be classified as “undependable” • More likely to appear in court rather than Children’s Aid Panels • - Gale 1990
Politics and the Social Contract Social Contract - a public contract where people agree to band together for some purpose - often highly structured in the realm of what we call "politics“ Politics - the spatial aspect of social force • Institutions control the use of force within a territorial framework (chiefdom or state)
Politics • The power to bring about results through authority or influence • through possession of forceful means • A human universal? • No, politics only emerged with increase in private property • Yes, there is no boundary between how kinship and political organizations organize power
In Political Analysis You Must Understand: • the territorial extent and organization of the society • how space and resources are divided • the social system through which force is allocated to and by different individuals playing different roles • how that system is viewed by those living in it • the institutional control of force by warfare: the maintenance of territory from outsiders • the institutional control of force by law enforcement: maintenance of territory from insiders
Egalitarian Societies • No individual or group has more access to resources, power, or prestige than any other. • No fixed number of social positions for which individuals must compete. • Associated with bands and tribes.
Shamans and Public Opinion Shamans: Part-time religious, healing, or magic specialists • Shamans may attribute forces to enemies, both within and without • Shamans may prescribe social solutions in the guise of magic • Shamans may organize the group around perceptions and supernatural commands.
Headmanship • Headmen are individuals whose opinion carries more weight than others. They lead by example • A good headman can judge the prevailing opinions and gauge his statements to them • Motivation by example is the chief tool of the headman
The Leopard Skin Chief • The Leopard Skin Chiefs are an institution among the Nuer (Sudan). • Mediate the disputes arising out of homicide • Can ritually cleanse the murderer • Negotiates compensation • Curses those who would break the settlement
Non-kin Associations: Sodalities Sodality: A non-kin group or association within a society organized around kinship groups • Age Grade Associations • Provides convenient way to teach youth • Allocates civic responsibilities • Single Sex Associations (often combined with other factors, e.g. age) • Agreement or Voluntary Groups • Vary widely in form • Organized for almost any purpose imaginable • Slight differences in the structures of parallel organizations
Rank Society • Institutionalized differences in prestige but no restrictions on access to basic resources. • Individuals obtain what they need to survive through their kinship group. • Associated with horticulture or pastoral societies with a surplus of food. • Associated with chiefdoms.
Stratified Society • Formal, permanent, social and economic inequality. • Some people are denied access to basic resources. • Characterized by differences in standard of living, security, prestige and political power.
Stratified Society • Economically organized by market systems (usually). • Based on intensive cultivation (agriculture) and industrialism. • Often associated with a form of political organization called the state.
Social Stratification Societies place people in categories. Social groups relate differently to each other depending on their status. Achieved Status Ascribed Status Class Race Ethnicity Caste
Dimensions of Stratification • Power—control resources in one’s own interest. • Wealth—accumulation of material resources or access to the means of producing these resources. • Prestige—social honor or respect.
Ascribed Vs. Achieved Status • Ascribed StatusSocial position into which a person is born. (sex, race, kinship group) • Achieved StatusSocial position that a person chooses or achieves. (professor, criminal, artist)
Social Class in the United States • Status depends on occupation, education, and lifestyle. • “The American Dream,” is based on the democratic principle of equality and opportunity for all. • Social class in the United States correlates with attitudinal, behavioral, and lifestyle differences.
Caste System • System of stratification based on birth. • Movement from one caste to another is not possible. • Castes are hereditary, endogamous, ranked in relation to one another and usually associated with a traditional occupation.
Hindu Caste System Four caste categories • Brahmins - priests and scholars • Kshatriyas - ruling and warrior caste • Vaisyas - the merchants • Shudras - menial workers and artisans • Harijans – “untouchables”
U.S. Racial Stratification Systems • Race is constructed on the basis of skin color and presumed ancestry. • Divides people into “blacks” and “whites” ignoring the reality of the skin color spectrum. • By the 20th century, the system of race in the American south was very similar to the caste system in India.
Race Stratification in the U.S. and Brazil • Two largest multiracial societies in the Americas. • In both societies the legacy of slavery continues in the form of racial inequality. • Brazil: 45% of nonwhite families and 25% of white families live below the poverty line. • U.S.: 30% of nonwhite families and 8% of white families live below the poverty line.
Types of Social Groups • Friendship • Clubs and fraternities • Counterculture groups • Work groups • Cooperatives • Activist groups
Friendship amongst the urban poor A cultural universal Can be gender and race segregated Institutional relationships (e.g. prison) Friendship Usually between social equals Sometimes based on shared story-telling
Clubs and Fraternities • Define membership on shared identity • Can serve economic and political roles • Men’s clubs featuring male-male bonding activities are common • often involve objectification and mistreatment of women • some US college fraternities
Counterculture Groups • Feature in industrialized societies • Members desire to be identified with a special group • youth gangs • initialization rituals • a leader • special clothing • body modification groups
Work Groups • Organized to perform particular task • Prominent in horticultural and agricultural communities • Often made up of youth groups
Cooperatives • Surpluses are shared among the members • One person, one vote • Farmer cooperatives • e.g. in western India • Craft cooperatives • e.g. in Panama
Activist Groups • Formed with the goal of protesting certain conditions such as political repression or human rights violations • e.g. CO-MADRES • Also formed because of concerns about personal problems • e.g. AA
Civil Society • Diverse interest groups that operate outside the government to organize aspects of life • the Church • Trade Unions • Environmental groups
Race “We conclude that the concept of “race” has no validity as a biological category in the human species. Because it homogenizes widely varying individuals, it impedes research and understanding of the true nature of human biological variations.” AAA Statement on Race, 1996
Headman Headman / Big-man Chief King/Queen/ President Types of Political Organizations Bands Tribes Chiefdoms States
Band Societies ~ Summary • Related by blood or marriage • Live together and are loosely associated with a territory in which they forage • Egalitarian
Bands • Foraging groups • Comprises a small group of households • Between 20 and a few hundred people • Membership is flexible • Leader is “first among equals” • Leader has no power, only authority and influence
Band Societies: Leadership • Decision-making is by consensus. • Leaders are older men and women. • Leaders cannot enforce their decisions; They can only persuade. • Sharing and generosity are important sources of respect.