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8.8: End of Chapter Discussion

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    1. In large communities, it can be difficult for people to feel a sense of connection or loyalty to people outside their immediate families. Choose one of the social-integration techniques used in tribes and chiefdoms and explain why it can successfully encourage solidarity between people. Can you identify similar systems for encouraging social integration in your own community?
    2. Although state societies are efficient in organizing people and resources, they also are associated with many disadvantages, such as extreme disparities in wealth, use of force to keep people in line, and harsh laws. Given these difficulties, why do you think the state has survived? Do you think human populations can develop alternative political organizations in the future?


    Age grades: groups of men who are close to one another in age and share similar duties or responsibilities.

    Age sets: named categories to which men of a certain age are assigned at birth.

    Band: the smallest unit of political organization, consisting of only a few families and no formal leadership positions.

    Big man: a form of temporary or situational leadership; influence results from acquiring followers.

    Caste system: the division of society into hierarchical levels; one's position is determined by birth and remains fixed for life.

    Chief: The person (women rarely occupy these posts) who holds the office of chief.

    Chiefdom: large political units in which the chief, who usually is determined by heredity, holds a formal position of power.

    Codified law: formal legal systems in which damages, crimes, remedies, and punishments are specified.

    Egalitarian: societies in which there is no great difference in status or power between individuals and there are as many valued status positions in the societies as there are persons able to fill them.

    Feuds: disputes of long duration characterized by a state of recurring hostilities between families, lineages, or other kin groups.

    Legitimacy: the perception that an individual has a valid right to leadership.

    Nation-state: an autonomous political entity.

    Negative reinforcements: punishments for noncompliance through fines, imprisonment, and death sentences.

    Oaths: the practice of calling on a deity to bear witness to the truth of what one says.

    Office: A permanent political status that must be filled when vacated through retirement or death.

    Ordeal: a test used to determine guilt or innocence by submitting the accused to dangerous, painful, or risky tests believed to be controlled by supernatural forces.

    Positive reinforcements: rewards for compliance; examples include medals, financial incentives, and other forms of public recognition.

    Raids: short-term uses of physical force organized and planned to achieve a limited objective.

    Ranked: societies in which there are substantial differences in the wealth and social status of individuals; there are a limited number of positions of power or status, and only a few can occupy them.

    Reverse dominance: societies in which people reject attempts by any individual to exercise power.

    Social classes: the division of society into groups based on wealth and status.

    Sodality: a system used to encourage solidarity or feelings of connectedness between people who are not related by family ties.

    State: the most complex form of political organization characterized by a central government that has a monopoly over legitimate uses of physical force, a sizeable bureaucracy, a system of formal laws, and a standing military force; an independent, centrally organized political unit or government.

    Stratification: A social structure that involves two or more largely mutually exclusive populations.

    Stratified: societies in which there are large differences in the wealth, status, and power of individuals based on unequal access to resources and positions of power.

    Sumptuary rules: norms that permit persons of higher rank to enjoy greater social status by wearing distinctive clothing, jewelry, and/or decorations denied those of lower rank.

    Tribe: political units organized around family ties that have fluid or shifting systems of temporary leadership.

    Adapted From

    "Political Anthropology: A Cross-cultural Comparison" by Paul McDowell, Santa Barbara City College. In Perspectives: An Open Invitation to Cultural Anthropology, 2nd Edition, Society for Anthropology in Community Colleges, 2020, under CC BY-NC 4.0.

    8.8: End of Chapter Discussion is shared under a CC BY-NC license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by LibreTexts.

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