The political life of man
A study of the social order and disorder
August 15th 2010
2. Types of political organizations
a. Band organizations
b. Tribal organizations
c. Chiefdom organizations
d. State organizations
3. Acquiring leadership
4. Participation in politics
5. Conflict settlement
e. Peaceful resolution
f. Violent resolution and war
Anthropologist started to view political anthropology as a separate specialization only about 70 years ago and, even so, the subject only gained popularity after the Second World War. Prior to this, anthropologists ...view middle of the document...
In band organizations, the political structure and social order is maintained through public opinion.
A tribe is somewhat similar to a collection of bands yet the relations between its inhabitants are more complex than that of a band. Again, there is not official or formal leader or chief. Rather, a wise or influential man is usually regarded as leader by the people. Still, when decisions are made, the whole tribe collectively discusses and takes action and does not leave this responsibility upon the informal leader. Thus, the system is far from governmental. The land occupied by a tribe is quite large and as a result, the population density is low.
In a tribe, the factor that binds its population together is usually kinship ties. Thus, a kin- based system is used in the distribution of food and the system plays a role on the importance of one’s opinions and decisions
Chiefdoms are the next type of society. Here there is a visible political hierarchy and chiefdoms are usually headed by a single person or an elite group. Social ranking is also possible and there are individuals or groups of people associated with different aspects of the community such as controlling trade, conducting religious rituals and in healing and medicine. Because of such differentiations and the fact that all of these people need to live close by to work together to keep the society functioning, the area occupied by a chiefdom society is small. Thus the population density within a chiefdom society is high.
Sometimes a chiefdom society is divided into smaller groups either based on kin relations or under different minor chiefs. This way each group completes with one another for leadership, power and religious authority. Thus such chiefdoms are quite unstable.
In 1970, anthropologist Robert Carneiro defined a state as "an autonomous political unit, encompassing many communities within its territory and having a centralized government with the power to collect taxes, draft men for work or war, and decree and enforce laws". Thus, the existence of a clearly defined central government differentiates a state organization from the other forms. States usually have a very complex political organization with an elite leader being non related to the common population and the existence of lesser leaders under him taking controls of various functions of the society such as trade, religion and infrastructure.
States are very densely populated as sections of the large population are usually specialized on particular aspects of the states functionality. Thus they need to live closely and function together for the state to run smoothly. States societies have also proven to be more stable and longer lasting than the other types of political groups.
3. Acquiring leadership
In most ancient societies, inheritance was the only way to become the new leader. Even today, such a system is seen in countries like the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia where the...