Essay on Political Systems

Submitted By sofialva
Words: 757
Pages: 4

The anthropological approach to political systems is global and comparative, this means that they study non-states, which are usually not focused on by political scientists. With politics comes power, which is the ability to exercise one’s will over others, and authority, which is the socially approved use of power. It can be said that in the United States the government has authority over its people, because their power is socially approved. The citizens of the country have a voice, which gives them freedom. In 1962 anthropologist Elman Service developed a typology of political organizations. He classified these as bands, tribes, chiefdoms, or states. Bands are small kin-based groups found among foragers. Tribes are associated with non-intensive food production and have villages or descent groups but lack formal government and social classes. The chiefdom is a form of sociopolitical organization that is intermediate between the tribe and state, still kin-based, but characterized by a permanent political structure with some degree of differential access to resources and political structure. In a state there is a formal government and social class. Anthropologist Kottak uses the term sociopolitical organization when he discusses cross-cultural similarities and differences in the regulation or management of interrelations among groups and their representatives. The similarities within economy and sociopolitical organizations are the following: foragers tend to have band organization, horticulturalists and pastoralists tend to have tribal organization, and agriculturalists tend to have either chiefdom or state level organization. In foraging societies the only two social groups that are significant are the nuclear family and the band. Foraging bands are also egalitarian, which means that all differences in status are achieved. They also lack formal law, which results in violent disputes amongst one another. Tribes are also similar in the sense that they lack formal government, but they also lack social classes, which are seen in foraging societies. The main officials in a tribe are known as the village heads or “big men”, descent-group leaders, village councils, and leaders of pantribal associations. Tribes are also egalitarian. Status in tribes is based on age, gender, and personal traits and abilities. The Yanomami are used as an example of a society with a village head. The position of village head is achieved and comes with very limited authority. Their job is to act as mediators in disputes, but have no authority in reprimanding the individual at fault. On the other hand the “big man” is like a village head, except that his authority is regional and they may have influence over more than one village. In order to obtain the position of tribal leader, a “big man”, or a village head a person must be generous, hard working, and efficient. Sodalities are non-kin based organizations, which generate links between different societies. They tend to be found in areas where two or more different cultures come into regular contact. Age sets are sodalities that…