Cultural Anthropology
Chapter Seven
Political Systems

Lecture Outline One

I. Introduction
A. Political Organization
1. All societies must have means by which they encourage and maintain social order and discourage social disorder
2. Societies vary in
• the extent to which legitimate authority is concentrated into specific political roles

• the extent to which political life is integrated into, or separate from, other aspects of social life

• the access of groups/individuals to power, wealth, prestige

B. Factors Affecting Political Organization
1. Subsistence patterns
• foraging
• horticulture
• pastoralism
• intensive agriculture

2. Economic systems
• reciprocity   
• redistribution
• market exchange

3. Social stratification
• egalitarian
• rank
• class and caste

II. Introduction to Social Stratification
A. Basis for social stratification
1. Inequality
• People or groups are ranked relative to each other.
2. Individual human inequality is universal and varies according differences or advantages based on:
•  Sex (male/female)
•  Age (young/old)
•  Ability (individual skills)
B. Social stratification based on unequal access of social groups to wealth /power / prestige .
1. Wealth
•natural or economic resources
2. Power
•ability to make people do things
3. Prestige
• special respect
C. Different types of status
1. Achieved status  
• Earned or acquired during lifetime through own efforts / achievements
2. Ascribed status     
• Born with

II. Three levels of social stratification:
A. Egalitarian societies
1. No special groups that have more access to wealth, power, or prestige
    √ Small-scale nomadic foragers:
• few possessions
• no land/resource ownership
• emphasize sharing through generalized reciprocity
    √ All persons of a given age - sex category have equal access to economic    resources, power and prestige
    √ As many high status positions as there are people to fill them
    √ Ability varies, but access to food or having a say in decision making is not dependent on ability

2. Examples = !Kung (Ju/'hoansi)
    √ want to avoid social stratification.  
        • downgrade good hunters.
        • associate with as many people as possible (practice exogamy) = a safety net.  
    √  There are individual differences among individuals (sex, age, abilities), but achieved or acquired status is not transferable or inheritable
        • everyone has equal opportunity, (given different age, sex, and abilities) to achieve status as a flint-knapper, or a hunter, storyteller, or healer, for example.
        • But that individual acquired status doesn't really permit unequal access prestige, let alone to power or to wealth
B. Rank societies
1. Some groups have more access to prestige, but usually not to wealth or power
    √ Some foraging, horticultural and ag pops.:
• increased sedentism
• storable surplus of resources
• redistribution (a means to express or achieve prestige)
• kinship = organizing principle
• kin groups associated with particular territory
    √  Number of  high status positions (chief) limited and inherited
    √  Groups & individuals ranked according to their genealogical proximity to chief 
    √  High ranking individuals maintain position by generosity & example; have neither power to coerce, nor excessive wealth

2. Examples = Kwakiutl
    √ Position in ranked hierarchy is inheritable, but can also be increased or lost through success at potlatch (redistribution)
    √ Rank is expressed through clothing, ceremonial titles, and the ability to organize and give away vast amounts of goods at potlatches..
    √ But that individual achieved status doesn't really permit unequal access prestige, let alone to power or to wealth

C. Stratified societies
1. Groups have unequal access to power, wealth, and prestige
    √ Intensive Ag and Industrial Populations
• Assoc. with rise of civilization (approx. 5500 years ago)
• Role specialization (more specialized = more stratified)
• Market economy
    √ Based on unequal access to productive resources
    √ Unequal access generally heritable, regardless of personal qualities

2. Two Types: Class and Caste (ends of a continuum)
               √ Class Societies
        > Some social mobility
• change social position in lifetime
• achieved status - result of personal effort
• each class typically associated with a certain education, occupation, & economic  level
        > Upper classes also increasingly hold political power
        > Healthier (better health care, insurance, diet, etc)
    √ Caste Societies
        > No social mobility
• determined by birth, lasts a lifetime
• ascribed status - born into
• must marry into the caste you are born into
        > Each caste
• associated with occupations/economic level
• has a social status (caste ID, residential/social segregation)
• has group ritual -intensify group identity
• higher castes maintain caste system