Ch. 12 Political Systems
Political Organizations- the ways in which societies are organized to plan group activities, make decisions
affecting members of the group, select leadership, and settle disputes both within the group and with other groups.
Political Anthropology- the study of the ways that communities plan group actions, decisions affecting the group,
select leadership, and resolve conflicts and disputes both within the group and with other groups.
Influence- ability to have an effect on the activities of others. Influence is based on individual's personal
characteristics of intelligence, skill, oratory, and charisma.
Authority- ability to affect the activities and decisions of others based not only on one's personal characteristics but
also because of one's social role.
Power- ability to force other people to comply with one's wishes, follow one's advice, and accede to one's demands,
based in part on the possibility using coercive measures to gain compliance.
Bands- Small, loosely organized groups of people held together by informal means.
Tribes- societies with some degree of formalization of structure and leadership, including village and inter-village
councils whose members regularly meet to settle disputes and plan community activities.
Associations- sociopolitical groups that link people in a community on the basis of shared interests and skills.
Age Grade (Age Set)- a sociopolitical association of people of more or less similar age who are given specific
Confederacy- a form of political organization in which tribes and bands join together under common leadership to
face on external threats.
Chiefdoms- stratified societies organized by kinship.
Kingdom- a centralized political with the king as the paramount leader.
States- highly centralized political systems with a hierarchical structure of authority.
Republics- state societies with elected rather than inherited leadership.
Primogeniture- a system of inheritance of leadership in which the eldest child (usually eldest son) automatically
inherits the position of leadership from his or her parents.
Social Control- informal and formal mechanisms in society through which people's actions are controlled and social
norms or laws are enforced.
Terrorism- acts of violence perpetrated by private citizens against groups within their own country or against a
foreign country without the cover and sanction of a state-declared war.
Theocracies- societies ruled by religious leaders, in which social order is upheld through beliefs in its divine origin
Factionalism- the tendency for groups to split into opposing parties over political issues, often a cause of violence
and a threat to political unity.
Political Anthropology -Political anthropology focuses on how societies select their leaders, make decisions affecting the group, provide
community functions and services, and resolve conflicts. These cultural mechanisms help integrate a community and
direct relations with other communities.
Type of Political Organizations
-Bands are small, loosely organized groups of people. Communities in band societies are usually relatively small
and dispersed throughout a wide territory. Bands are held together by informal means. Membership in a band is
typically based on kinship ties. Band leadership is based on the abilities of the leader. Such leaders have influence
but cannot control the actions of others. Bands are usually egalitarian societies.
-Tribal societies are more structured, organized, and cohesive than bands. Tribal societies may have more
formalized procedures for making decisions and selecting leaders with limited power to enforce their decisions.
-Voluntary associations and age-grade or age-set organizations are common in tribal societies. Members of the same
age grade consider themselves to have a kin-like relationship.
-Some tribal societies link themselves in confederacies. A confederacy is a formal, well-organized political structure
to counteract external threats. Confederacies have formal procedures to select leaders, debate issues, make decisions,
and plan and execute actions.
-Chiefdoms are stratified societies organized by kinship. Within chiefdoms, the chief and their families have the
most prestige, authority, and privileges, but not power. Their position and influence depend on voluntary compliance
of their kin groups and communities. In chiefdoms, there is no paramount leader. Chiefs owe primary allegiance to
their kin groups. Although chiefly rank may be inherited, aspirants need skills and personally traits to be appropriate
-Chiefs are often the centers of redistributive networks. They redistribute by hosting feasts.
Characteristic of State Societies
-State societies are the largest, most complex, and highly centralized political systems. In every part of the world,
states have replaced other types of societies.
-State governments are hierarchical. State government systems include procedures for formally selecting leaders and
their assistance. States usually divide their territory into districts and have economic systems characterized by labor
specialization. States are stratified societies in which people have greater access to property and resources than
-State societies promulgate ideologies that legitimate the status and privileges that elites receive. States also have
mechanisms of force to maintain the status quo. States have law codes monopolize the rights to control and punish
wrongdoers and conduct warfare.
Internal Political Change and State Societies
-States are inherently expansionist because their elites want to increase their wealth and power. State conquest
always has cultural components as basic systems of family organization, economic relationships, and religion
change to conform to the practices and beliefs of the conquerors.
-States may also be transformed from within as interest groups or factions compete. Reform or revolutionary
movements may develop in response to perceived inequalities and injustices or to effect more fundamental changes.
Although states resist revolutions, some revolutionary movements like the wave of post- World War II
decolonization have proven to be unstoppable. Global movements toward democratization have also more recently
gained momentum. Ch.13 Conflict and Conflict Resolution
Positive Sanctions- recognition and rewards for observing social norms.
Negative Sanctions- punishment for offending social norms.
Informal Sanctions- rewards and punishments expressed through praise, ridicule, gossip, and the like.
Formal Sanctions- rewards and punishments administrated by person's in authority, the state, or the law.
Dominance Hierarchies- in primate groups, social hierarchies established on the basis of sex and age.
Post-Conflict Reconciliation- patterned behavior that occurs immediately after conflict has erupted and taken its
course, to restore some measure of social harmony.
Conflict Avoidance- pro-social behaviors, such as reconciliation, consolation, politeness, or apology to repair social
relationships without aggression.
Peacemakers- individuals with a specialized social role of preventing conflict from erupting into dangerous combat.
Deference- non-threating verbal and nonverbal behaviors that convey respect or subordination to others.
Politeness Strategies- behaviors designed to mute antagonisms and avoid overt hostility by affirming common
bonds and recognizing another person's rights and feelings.
Song Duels- Inuit contests in which conflict in expressed and resolved through public response to music.
Witchcraft- a belief system that functions as a mechanism of social control by channeling anger toward others.
Vengeance- aggression against others based on the principle of revenge.
Blood Feud- Ongoing conflict between kin groups or communities, based on vengeance.
Warfare- armed aggression and hostilities between groups.
Evolutionary Perspective on Conflict
-In all societies, communities, and families, conflicts may occur over issues of daily life, household responsibilities,
or roles within communities. Disputes within communities may be about interpersonal issues or rights to property
and other resources. Conflicts may also occur between communities or nations. Such conflicts can lead to protracted
antagonisms and even to warfare. There are, therefore, mechanisms to avoid or resolve conflicts. Societies differ in
what they consider to be causes of conflict and in how they settle disputes and reestablished peace or harmonious
-Evolutionary biologists and psychologists study the primate origins of behaviors that help avoid conflict and restore
peace after open aggression between animals. One way that conflict is avoided is for subordinate animals to display
submission. Post-conflict animal reconciliation behavior includes approaching one another, holding out a hand, and
embracing to reassure the other animals. Mutual grooming and body contact reduce aggression and promote
interpersonal and group stability.
-In human societies people develop means of expressing disagreement while avoiding open conflict. Deference to
others or stating one's opinion indirectly and politely create social harmony while managing disagreement. Self-
control and restraint are positive personality traits that help avoid conflict. Informal sanctions such as teasing,
gossiping about, or ostracizing wrongdoers also squelch disruptive behavior. Conflict management may take the
form of control of aggressive behavior once it erupts. Peacemakers may intervene when disputes arise. Witchcraft and Rituals in Conflict Resolution
-In some societies, social mechanisms help prevent conflict or channel aggressive behavior in socially acceptable
forms. Beliefs in witchcraft may also channel aggressive impulses and control people's behavior, because angry or
aggressive people may either become the target of witchcraft or be accused of being witches.\
Patterns of Family and Community Conflict
-Within families, conflicts may erupt over personal preferences and styles of interaction. People may also disagree
about household responsibilities, marriage choices, and community involvement. In societies that value property,
siblings may compete over inheritance.
-In societies where the stakes of conflict are high, people may function as mediators to resolve disputes before they
become deadly. Such conflicts may lead to attacks, counterattacks, and revenge, resulting in killings and blood
feuds. Mediators may be appealed to because of their skills as orators and ability to persuade people to come to
agreements that are in the interest of the entire community.
Pattern of Conflict between Groups
-When conflicts erupt between communities, societal mechanisms may develop to negotiate a settlement that avoids
or lessens hostility. Although armed aggression and hostilities between groups can occur anywhere, the causes and
character of warfare vary among societies. Warfare is least likely and least destructive in nomadic bands. In tribal
societies, raiding and warfare may be deadlier and more disruptive. Tribal warfare generally involves relatively few
-In state societies, warfare has primarily economic and political goals. Indeed, state societies are usually born
through warfare and generally depend on armed conflict or other coercion to expand. State societies have standing
armies made up of people who are either part-time or full-time specialists. The goals of state warfare are either the
total annihilation of the enemy or its submission. In modern warfare, losers are usually permitted face-saving
options, so their losses and public humiliation do not breed deep resentment.
-Despite efforts to develop international mechanisms to resolve disputes peacefully, armed conflicts continue to
erupt. Internal disputes and civil wars can damage societies for generations after they have ended. Some
governments have limited their military spending, eliminating standing armies altogether, or instituting formal
mechanisms for resolving disputes. International organizations sometimes help disputing parties arrive at peaceful
reconciliations within countries that have been devastated by civil wars and internal antagonisms. Ch. 14 Religion
Religion- thoughts, actions, and feelings based on beliefs in the existence of spirit beings and supranormal (or
Religious Speech- invocations, prayers, prophecies, songs of praise, and cruses that are powerful means of
transmitting messages about the world and also creating the world.
Cosmology- religious worldview of a people, including beliefs about the origin of the world, the pantheon of deities
that exist, and their relationships to the spirit realm.
Animism- belief in the existence of souls.
Animatism- belief that all things are endowed with some spirit form or essence.
Polytheism- belief in the existence of numerous deities that have specific attributes, powers, and functions.
Monotheistic Religions- belief systems that hold to the existence of one supreme deity who has powers and
knowledge that affect all aspects of life.
Ancestor Worship- belief in the importance of ancestors as they affect the lives of their survivors, protecting their
descendants in return for rituals of honor performed to show them respect.
Mana- a force, power, or essence that endows people, animals, and other living things, and possibly inanimate
objects with special qualities or powers.
Totemism- belief system in which people believe they are descendants of spirit beings.
Secret Societies- organizations that control the use of special objects used in religious rituals.
Mediums- people having special gifts to make contact with the spirit world, often in a state of trance.
Diviners- people with the power to predict the future through messages and omens from the spirit world.
Healers- religious practitioners who acquire spirit power to diagnose the spirit cause of illness and effect cures.
Shamans- part-time religious practitioners who make contact with the spirit world through prayer, ritual, and trance.
Priests- full-time religious practitioners who lead a religious organization and officiate at rituals but are not
expected to be able to communicate directly with the spirit world.
Rituals- activities, including religious speech, ceremonies, and behaviors, that are demonstrations of belief.
Sacred Rituals- activities, places, or objects that are connected to the spirit realm and are imbued with power.
Rites of Renewal- rituals performed with the goal of renewing the bounty of the earth.
Prayer- religious speech or thought through which believers transmit messages to spirit beings.
Sacrifice- offerings made to spirit beings to show gratitude and honor.
Puberty Rites- rituals performed to mark the passage of an individual from childhood to adulthood; also called
Funerary Rites- Rituals performed to mark a person's death and passage to the afterworld.
Spirit Possession- belief that spirits can enter a body and take over a person's thoughts and actions.
Imitative Magic- magic that operates on the principle of "like causes like." Contagious Magic- magic that operates on the principle that positive and negative qualities can be transferred
through proximity or contact.
Calendric Rituals- ceremonies performed at specific times during the year; for example, agricultural rituals
performed for planting, growing, and harvesting crops.
Prophets- religious leaders who receive divine inspiration, often in a vision or trance.
Nativistic Movements- revitalization movements attempting to rid society of foreign elements and return to what is
conceived to be a prior state of cultural purity.
Revivalistic Movements- revitalization movements focused on bringing back cultural and religious practices that
express core values that have been largely abandoned.
Millenarian Movements- revitalization movements incorporating apocalyptic themes, prophesying an abrupt end to
the world as we know it, leading to the establishment of a new way of life or form of existence.
Messianic Movements- revitalization movements stressing the role of a prophet or messiah as a savior for people.
Cargo Cults- revitalization movements arising in Melanesia in the early 20th century with the aim of obtaining
material wealth through magical means.
Proselytism- the attempt to convert a person or group from one religion to another.
Fundamentalism- a term coined in the United States in 1920 meaning a commitment to do battle to defend
traditional religious beliefs.
What Is Religion?
-Religion is actions and feelings based on beliefs in spirit beings and supranormal (or superhuman) forces. Religious
beliefs and practices give people ways to contact spirit beings and forces, show them honor and respect, and invoke
their protection. Anthropologist use comparison and cultural relativism to analyze religious beliefs and behaviors.
They try to understand people's ideas about the spirit realm from the people's own point of view. They also focus on
how religious beliefs and practices are consistent with other aspects of culture.
The Origins and Functions of Religion
-Specific origins of religious beliefs are unknown. Religions give people solace, and religious beliefs and practices
bind communities together. They give ideological support for social structures, including family organization, social
stratification, and political inequalities. Anthropologist using cultural materialist or ecological perspectives analyze
religious practices as a means of adapting to one's environment.
-Social, economic, political, and historical developments affect religions. Changes may cause people to think about
their relationship with the spirit world in different ways, altering practices or even abandoning the altogether.
Religious incorporate new ideas from external sources or the innovations of believers.
Spirit Beings and Forces
-Spirit entities and forces have extraordinary powers. They are typically eternal or indestructible. They know more
than a person can know and can act in ways that humans cannot. Thus, people seek to gain their protection and aid.
-One nearly universal form that spirit takes is the soul- the eternal aspect of living things. In some beliefs, only
humans have souls. Souls are seen as the animation aspect of living things. When the body dies, souls escape and
exist eternally in another form. The belief in souls is called animism; the belief that all things are endowed with
some spirit essence is animatism. -Some religious traditions have many spirit beings in human form with specific attributes, powers, and functions.
Polytheism, belief in numerous deities, is widespread. In monotheistic religions, people believe in one supreme deity
who affects all aspects of life, although there may also be lesser spirits and moral heroes.
-Mana is a spirit power or essence that endows people, animals, objects, or events with special qualities or powers.
In some cultures of Australia and North America, people believe that they are descended from human or animal
spirit beings called totems, the primordial protectors of the people.
-Spirit beings and forces are dangerous if contacted in the wrong way, in the wrong place, or at the wrong time.
Restrictions on places or objects are called taboos. A tabooed object or place can cause harm because the spirit
power within it can become dangerous.
Religious Practitioners and Specialists
-Most religions have individuals or groups who function as either part-time or full-time religious specialist