Chapter 14 Politics, Power, and Violence
Chapter Outline • Systems of Political Organization • Political Systems and the Question of Legitimacy • Politics and Religion • Political Leadership and Gender • Political Organization and the Maintenance of Order • Social Control Through Law • Violent Conflict and Warfare • Domination and Repression • Resistance to Domination and Repression
Power • The ability of individuals or groups to impose their will upon others and make them do things even against their own wants or wishes.
Political Organization • The way power is distributed and embedded in society; the means through which a society creates and maintains social order and reduces social disorder.
Political Systems Four basic types of political systems: • Bands • Tribes • Chiefdoms • States
Band • A relatively small and loosely-organized, kin-ordered group that inhabits a specific territory and that may split periodically into smaller extended family groups that are politically independent.
Tribe • Refers to a range of kin-ordered groups that are politically integrated by some unifying factor and whose members share a common ancestry, identity, culture, language, and territory.
Chiefdom • A regional polity in which two or more local groups are organized under a single chief, who is at the head of a ranked hierarchy of people.
State • In anthropology, a centralized political system that has the capacity and authority to make laws and use force to maintain social order.
Nation • A people who share a collective identity based on a common culture, language, territorial base, and history.
Uncentralized Political Systems • Marriage and kinship are the principal means of social organization. • Primarily associated with subsistence economies. • Leaders do not have real power to force compliance. Decisions are made by consensus. • This is considered an egalitarian form of political organization. • Examples include bands and tribes.
Bands • Probably the oldest form of political organization. • Small, loosely-organized, kin-ordered group. • Found among food foragers and other nomadic societies. • Periodically break up into smaller groups and then reconvene seasonally. • Egalitarian and with a small population. • No formal law; decisions made by consensus. • Informal leadership.
Tribes • Uncentralized type of political organization. • Consists of kin-ordered groups that are politically integrated. • Economy tends to be based on crop cultivation or herding. • Population is higher than bands and leads to some occupational focus and also theft and social problems. • The clan is often the organizing unit and political authority. • Leadership is relatively informal, but recognized. • There is no formal law.
Chiefdoms • A centralized form of political organization. • Regional polity organized under a single ruling authority, usually inherited. • Society is a hierarchy of minor and major authorities. • Chief usually controls society politically and economically. • Most commonly practices redistributive economics and produces surplus.
States • A complex, centralized political system with a large population. • Emergence of social class structure. • Development of formal law. • Highly developed system of production and distribution of resources. • Development of state institutions and bureaucracy. • Concept of state does not necessarily coincide with the concept of nation.
Legitimacy • The right of political leaders to exercise power. • Required to govern with authority. • Legitimate government may be distinguished from rule based on intimidation or force. • Most governments use ideology, including religion, to legitimize political power.
Politics and Religion • Religion is often intimately connected to politics. • In both non-industrial and industrial societies, belief in the supernatural is reflected in the extant political institutions. • Often, religion is used to legitimate political authority.
Political Leadership and Gender • Research shows that far fewer women than men have held important positions of political leadership. • In a number of societies, women have enjoyed political equality with men, as among the Iroquoian peoples in northeastern North America. • Under centralized political systems, women are traditionally most likely to be subordinate to men.
Internalized Control • Cultural control is control through belief and values deeply internalized in the minds of individuals. • Internalized controls are cultural in nature, self-imposed by enculturated individuals. • They rely on personal shame, fear of divine punishment, and magical retaliation.
Externalized Control • Social control is external enforcement through open coercion. • Externalized controls, called sanctions, mix cultural and social control. • Positive sanctions are rewards or recognition by others. • Negative sanctions include threat of imprisonment, fines, corporal punishment, or loss of face. • Sanctions are formal, including actual laws, or informal, involving norms.
Law • Formal negative sanctions that define relationships, prescribe and prohibit behavior among a society’s members, and allocate authority to enforce sanctions. • In centralized political systems, this authority rests with the government and court system, whereas uncentralized societies give this authority directly to the injured party.
Crime • In Western societies, a clear distinction is made between offenses against the state and offenses against an individual. • In non-state societies such as bands and tribes, all offenses are viewed as transgressions against individuals or kin-groups.
Settling Disputes • Disputing parties may voluntarily arrive at a mutually satisfactory agreement, referred to asnegotiation or, if it involves the assistance of an unbiased third party, mediation. • In chiefdoms and states, an authorized third party may issue a binding decision that the disputing parties will be compelled to respect, referred to as adjudication.
Conflict and Conflict Resolution • Political systems attempt to regulate relations between politically autonomous units. • In doing so, they may resort to the use of force. • The scope of violent conflict is wide, ranging from individual fights, local feuds and raids to formally declared international wars. • Some societies engage in defensive wars only and avoid armed confrontations with others unless seriously threatened or actually attacked.
Warfare • Evidence shows that warfare first developed some 10,000 years ago after food production began and state societies developed. • Warfare has reached crisis proportions in the last 200 years. • Sedentism and population growth means that carrying capacity has been exceeded in many areas, leaving few resources available to large numbers of people.
Acculturation • Massive culture change that occurs in a society when it experiences intensive firsthand contact with a more powerful society. • The most extreme cases of forced culture change occur as a result of military conquest or massive invasion by dominant newcomers.
Ethnocide • The violent eradication of an ethnic group’s collective cultural identity as a distinctive people; occurs when a dominant society deliberately sets out to destroy another society’s cultural heritage. • A policy of ethnocide typically includes forbidding a subjugated nation’s ancestral language, criminalizing their traditional customs, destroying their religion and social organization, and dispossessing them of their homelands.
Genocide • The physical extermination of one people by another, either as a deliberate act or as the accidental outcome of activities carried out by one people with little regard for their impact on others. • The most widely known act of genocide was that which occurred during World War II, resulting in the deaths of about 500,000 Gypsies and 6 million Jews.
Tradition • Customary ideas and practices passed on from generation to generation, which in a modernizing society may form an obstacle to new ways of doing things. • When people are able to hold on to some of their traditions in the face of powerful outside domination, the result may be syncretism (creative blending of indigenous and foreign beliefs and practices into new cultural forms.)
Violent Resistance • May occur as: • Rebellion – organized armed resistance to an established government or authority in power. • Revolution – radical change in a society or culture. It involves the forced overthrow of a prior government and the establishment of a completely new one.
Civil Disobedience • Refusal to obey civil laws in an effort to induce change in governmental policy or legislation, characterized by the use of passive resistance or other nonviolent means.
Revitalization Movements • Movements for radical cultural reform in response to widespread social disruption and collective feelings of great stress and despair.