The Evolution of Social Organization

скачать Автор: Kurtz, Donald V. - подписаться на статьи автора
Журнал: Social Evolution & History. Volume 10, Number 2 / September 2011 - подписаться на статьи журнала


This paper asserts that while culture does change, it does not evolve. In anthropology the explanation for the evolution of the non-biological aspects of the human condition has relied on the paradigm of cultural evolution. This paper argues that non-biological evolution is better explained in terms of the evolution of social organization. It also rejects the materialist bias that dominates the explanations for why and how evolution takes place. Instead it argues that human agents play a larger role in evolution than has been acknowledged. The paper concludes with a model identified as the ‘genetic pulse’ that demonstrates the power of non-materialist forces in evolution and the means of acquiring the ethnographic data necessary to demonstrate the evolution of social organization.


Compared to the ‘hard’ physical and natural sciences that devise experiments and make predictions, anthropology is, along with other social sciences, a ‘soft’ science because its methodologies are unable to duplicate ‘hard science’ methodologies. The distinction between ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ science is spurious. Not all hard sciences rely on experiments (astronomy) and their predictions often are far from accurate (atomic physics) (Lett 1987). The hard/soft distinction misrepresents what science is and is not. Regardless of its orientation, science – natural, physical, social – is nothing more than ‘a way of gaining knowledge’ (Ibid.: 45) based upon an epistemological foundation that informs how we know what we know and allows for falsification of propositions derived and supported epistemologically. In science the most accurate epistemology is established by data that is attained empirically (Lett 1987). In socio-cultural anthropology ethnographies provide that empirical foundation.

Anthropology has been a very successful science. In its breadth (all human societies and every aspect of their existence) and depth (from the appearance of hominins over 3 million years ago to the present) anthropology has provided (largely unappreciated) more knowledge about the human condition than any other social science. In general this knowledge derives from a dedication to exploring two related but largely distinct domains of inquiry that represent universal concerns of human populations and constitute the essence of the anthropological enterprise: the maintenance of human life and the maintenance of human identity (Lett 1987).

The maintenance of life refers to how people engage in those material activities that are concerned with survival: subsistence, means of reproduction, division of labor and the institutional domains, economics and politics, for example, related to these activities (see Table 1). The maintenance of identity refers to how people establish and utilize ideational dimensions of existence: ideologies, meanings, symbols, and aesthetics. These two concerns are embedded in the various paradigms by which anthropologists explore the human condition. Pertinent to this work, the material interest related to the maintenance of life is represented by the paradigm of cultural evolution.1 This paradigm is the most nomothetically grounded of anthropology's paradigms and relies largely on a comparative methodology. The maintenance of identity has been covered historically by several discrete paradigms of which structuralism, symbolic anthropology, and postmodernism provide the current orientations. These paradigms are most dedicated to a cultural relativist and ideographic (as opposed to nomothetic) interpretation of the human condition.

Of these anthropological paradigms, only the paradigm of cultural evolution has constructed a praxis that incorporates elements of each domain – life and identity – in a single methodology. Cultural evolution has done so by relying on a broadly based idea of culture and an epistemology established on empirical ethnographic data. The significance of ethnographic data for the epistemological foundation of the evolution paradigm will be considered later. Before that I shall establish my identity as an apostate of the paradigm of cultural evolution and make a case for an alternative evolution of the non-biological aspects of the human condition.

The apostate position

In this paper I shall commit the heresy of denying the fundamental principle of cultural evolution, that is that culture evolves. Culture, understood to include material and ideational domains of inquiry, does change and it cannot be ignored in the evolution paradigm. Culture is, after all, a relativist veneer embedded in and spread over all human societies. But as I shall demonstrate, it does not evolve. Instead, in an evolutionary framework culture represents the accumulation of material and ideational traits that complement and stand in a dialectical relationship with human practices related to the maintenance of life that do evolve. I shall commit another heresy by rejecting the domination of the materialist causality for evolution. Instead, as do a few others that differ from my approach (Roscoe 1993; Claessen 2000, 2006), I shall introduce human agents and their ideas as forces in the evolution of social organization.

In what follows I shall interrogate current explanations of the evolution paradigm2 and suggest an alternative methodology. There is considerable truth to the relativist position that the cultures of pre-industrial peoples in general, even those with basic foraging technologies, are rich, infinitely variable, and anything but simple. Cultural relativists rely on a humanistic praxis to try to understand the diversity of cultures.

The evolution paradigm involves a different premise. The evolution paradigm uses a scientific praxis to try to explain the development from the least to the most complex of the non-biological aspects of the human condition. Instead of focusing on the relativist ideal of cultural diversity,3 evolutionists rely on a comparative strategy to account for the reproduction of the regularities and recurrent features in the social organizations of human societies (Steward 1949: 5; 1955: 8; Claessen 2000: 3, 169ff.; Adams 1966).

Advocates of each approach are committed to praxes that have for a century and a half been the source of vitriolic debates regarding their epistemological and methodological foundations. Cultural relativists, concerned largely with the maintenance of identity, live and work quite nicely without paying a scintilla of attention to evolutionist concerns. The evolution paradigm's concern with the maintenance of life, however, would have no validity without the empirical ethnographic data relativists provide to evolution's epistemology. This was demonstrated by the ethnocentric and speculative pseudo-science of many nineteenth century evolutionists (Morgan and Tylor excluded) whose work either was devoid of reliable ethnographic data or represented the data they had badly. Ethnographies provide the empirical foundation to explain and understand the evolution of the social organizations that constitute the institutions of human societies and changes in the material and ideational dimensions of culture that accompany that evolution.

Anthropologists often include social organizations, institutions, material, and ideational elements in their definitions of culture. But the separation of social organizations and institutions from material (objective artifacts) and ideational (symbolic artifacts) domains of culture also has a precedent in anthropology. This separation is honored more by anthropologists who are persuaded by an ideographic cultural relativism and postmodern posture than by a nomothetically grounded evolutionist perspective. Anthropology's ideational emphasis was certified by the actions of the tribal elders of anthropology and sociology, Kroeber and Parsons (1958) respectively, when they announced which aspects of society and culture were appropriate for research in their respective disciplines. They relegated ‘society ... social systems ... to ... the specific relational system of interaction among individuals and collectivities’. They identified culture ‘narrowly’ with ‘values, ideas, and other symbolic-meaningful systems’ (Kroeber and Parsons 1958: 583). In this division sociology got social organization and anthropology got culture, largely of an ideational and relativist variety.

Despite the presumptiveness of these elders in dictating to practitioners in each field their appropriate intellectual enterprises, sociologists have been less intrigued with social evolution than have anthropologists with the evolution of culture (which often includes social relations of various sorts). I will not develop a sociological approach to evolution. But I shall propose how a non-materialist conceptualization of culture as ‘the exercise of thought, the acquisition of general ideas, the habit of connecting cause and effect ... enlivened by organization’ (Gramsci 1917: 44, cited in Buttigieg 1987: 20, emphasis added)4 can be a dynamic force in evolution (Kurtz 2001, 2004). In this perspective, the ideas and practices of human beings engage material forces dialectically to challenge the ontological primacy of the chicken or the egg dilemma in causality. It is a problem that pervades the evolution paradigm and will, probably, never be resolved to everyone's satisfaction.

The problem

The evolution of social organization refers to the differentiation, specialization and integration within and between the social organizations that constitute the institutions by which human populations mobilize material and ideational culture traits to maintain life and identity in their social and physical environments. This focus provides a different way to understand and explain the evolution of human societies than that provided by cultural evolutionists.

For example, writings by the doyens of evolutionary thinking past and present, as well as other contributors to the evolutionist paradigm,5 convey the impression that everything – material, ideational, social – by which anthropologists identify culture evolves temporally and spatially in lockstep, more or less as one totality (Service 1971: 97). There are exceptions to this tendency; Steward's (1955) notion of the culture core, and Harris's (1979) idea of cultural materialism, for example. The idea of the culture core argues that ‘social, political and religious patterns’ (Steward 1955: 37) provide the primary diagnostics by which to determine the evolution of other aspects of culture. Harris's (1979) idea of cultural materialism is based on the premise that societies' behavioural structures (economics, politics) and ideational superstructures (religion, ideology) are the sequential results of a chain of processes that emanate from societies' materialist infrastructures (modes of production). But the impression that culture commonly evolves as a non-discriminated totality occurs regardless of whether their evolution is conceived as unilineal, multilineal, specific, general, or universal and is or is not marked by stages or driven by some prime mover or other cause. This tendency derives from the definitions of culture favoured by cultural evolutionists, some of which suggest that many evolutionists are not really interested in ‘culture’.

Some who write on cultural evolution do not bother to define culture. They prefer instead to talk about and/or around culture and accept it as an adjectival qualification to a universally agreed upon concomitant of evolution (Sahlins and Service 1960; Steward 1955; Service 1971). Others offer perfunctory definitions that seem to have little to do with the relationship of the idea of culture to evolution. They supply a definition of culture more as a courtesy to the concept than its necessary engagement as a problematic in the evolution paradigm (Fried 1967; Peacock and Kirsch 1980).6 But in general, most of those who define culture in an evolutionary context are beholden to Tylor's representation of culture as that ‘complex whole which includes knowledge, belief, art, law, morals, customs and any other capabilities and habits acquired by man as member of society’ (Tylor 1871: 1, emphasis added). This idea of culture as a list of coequal universal traits persists, perhaps, most commonly in one form or another in the definitions of culture favoured by evolutionist anthropologists.7

During the renaissance of the evolution paradigm in mid-20th century Leslie White provided an off-handed, ‘Tylorian’ definition of culture as an ‘extrasomatic, temporal continuum, of things and events dependent upon symboling [that] consists of tools, implements, utensils, clothing, ornaments, customs, institutions, beliefs, rituals, games, works of art, language, etc.’ (White 1959: 3, parenthesis and emphasis added). Later Cohen provided a more nuanced idea of culture as ‘the energy systems, the objective and specific artifacts, the organizations of social relations, the modes of thought, the ideologies and the total range of customary behaviour that are transmitted from one generation to another by a social group that enable it to maintain life in a particular habitat’ (Cohen 1968b: 1, emphasis added). Still more recently Harris conceptualized culture as the ‘learned, socially acquired traditions of thought and behaviour found in human societies’ (Harris 1997: 50, emphasis added). Most recently Claessen identified culture as ‘the learned whole comprising the knowledge and ability of humankind and of the various groups of which this is comprised’ (Claessen 2000: 3, emphasis added). Emblematic as these definition are of the evolutionists' universal-trait-list-definitions of culture, except for Harris's (1979) cultural materialism, they show little discrimination regarding the relative importance for evolution of the totality of traits that they include in their definitions.8

There is inherently nothing wrong with these definitions; they are just some of the many identified by Kroeber and Kluckhohn (1952). They merely stand in sharp contrast to the cultural relativists' ideographic ideas of culture as an ideational domain associated with discrete societies. Stephen Tyler sums up the relativist position on culture with his assertion that general ideas (such as those above) have ‘never been particularly useful’ and what anthropology needs ‘is a more limited notion of culture which stresses theories of cultures (Tyler 1969: 14). This perspective emphasizes the uniqueness of each culture that Boaz asserted (see endnote 3) and rejects any idea that cultures are comparable and might evolve.

I contend that the profitable discrimination for explaining and understanding evolution should be made between the material9 and ideational domains of culture, on the one hand, and, on the other, social organizations – the distinctive and identifiable categories of social roles and relations inherent in social institutions that differentiate, specialize, integrate, and reproduce the increased complexity that characterizes evolution (Table 1). I shall demonstrate later that social organization trumps other traits in what it reveals about evolution and represents the proper focus by which to explain it. A brief exegesis (see endnote 1) of thinking on evolution by a few select savants between the mid-19th and 20th centuries establishes an epistemology to assess the dialectical tension regarding the evolution of social organization and the evolution of culture that most American anthropologists resolved in favour of culture.10


Today the idea of evolution that refers to changes in culture is likely to reflect the primary dictionary definition of evolution as an increased complexity of forms. It is true that the ideational and material aspects of culture change temporally and spatially. This is construed by some current evolutionist anthropologists to refer to the increased complexity of cultures, social structures, hierarchies – human societies in general (Carneiro 2003). Still, in the century between roughly 1850 and 1950 some evolutionist thinkers, early anthropologists, and others, including critics of the evolution paradigm, coped with the problems of what constituted evolution and what actually evolved in human societies and their cultures.

Lowie (1948: 32–33), for example, a critic of the evolution paradigm, identified the etymological and biological meanings of evolution as they were used by the 19th century thinkers. Etymologically Lowie pointed out that ‘to evolve’ refers to an ‘unfolding’ or ‘unrolling’.11 But, he argues that not all aspects of culture, such as language and – mistakenly – social organization, change in this way. Today the idea that evolution unfolds is near last in dictionary definitions of evolution, far below the main idea of an increased complexity. This suggests a shift in emphasis over time regarding the primary ideas of the definition.12 In its biological connotation Lowie refers to the still respectable Darwinian idea of evolution (extrapolated from The Descent of Man) as ‘descent with modification’. Lowie uses this idea as a synonym for evolution that, when applied to culture, connotes a permanent change – one that is ‘not ephemeral, but lasting’ (Lowie 1948: 32) – in a cultural trait, such as social organization. These ideas relate to how Spencer, Tylor, and Morgan thought of evolution in the 19th century as they and others contributed to the establishment of anthropology as a distinct scholarly and scientific discipline.

Spencer is largely responsible for the cachet attached to the anthropological idea of evolution, and his understanding of evolution went through several explications. Initially he rejected the idea that evolution referred to a process of unfolding (Spencer 1851: 415). Instead, as he developed the idea, evolution was reflected in societies' political, religious and economic organizations (Idem 1857: 465) as they and societies at large went through a ‘continuous differentiation and integration’ (Idem 1863: 216) such that ‘structural traits’ (Idem 1886: 331) provided the mechanisms by which to determine evolution. Ultimately he concluded that evolution resulted in the ‘increased complexity of human societies’ (Idem 1896: 391, emphasis added). As noted, this remains the essence of the idea of social and cultural evolution as it is used and identified lexically today, especially by Carneiro (2003), who is ‘the spokesman of all those who considered growing complexity ... the main characteristic of evolution’ (Claessen 2006: 5). Spencer's idea of evolution as a ‘continuous differentiation’ provides the key to understanding what that increased complexity entails.13

Tylor (1871) eventually accreted his idea of culture as an all-inclusive array of traits (including survivals from previous cultural formations) identified exclusively with human societies to an idea of evolution that was divested of biologic implications. In effect, this formulation became dominant in anthropological thinking as the distinguishing criteria by which to evaluate the evolution of culture. Shortly thereafter, Morgan (1963 [1877]) resuscitated Spencer's early idea of evolution as an unfolding. Morgan identified how the idea of evolution as an ‘unfolding’ embodied the idea of a ‘differentiation’ of institutions that differed significantly from the Tylorian notion of evolution as an all-inclusive change in culture traits. Morgan said:

As we re-ascend along the several lines of progress ... and eliminate one after the other, in the order in which they appeared, inventions and discoveries [read culture traits and their causal mechanisms], on the one hand, and institutions [social organizations] on the other, we are enabled to perceive that the former [culture] stand to each other in progressive, and the latter [social organizations cum institutions] in unfolding relations (Morgan 1963 [1877]: 4, emphases and parentheses inserted).

Morgan's distinction between the progressive accumulation of material culture traits, on the one hand, and the unfolding of social organization, on the other, long preceded Lowie's (1948) argument that evolution is selective and that changes in some culture traits are not necessarily evolutionary. Culture, as Morgan demonstrates in his hierarchic classification of ‘ancient societies’, does become quantitatively more complex as societies evolve. And culture, as we also know, integrates and reintegrates differently at different times and under different circumstances. Culture as conceptualized by Morgan also may complement and provide a veneer over social organizations. But as he clearly argues – and I concur – culture does not unfold or differentiate. That is a characteristic of institutions and – contrary to Lowie's argument – the agency derived from the very lack of permanency inherent in social organizations embedded in those institutions.

For example, it is impossible to find any social organization – political, religious, economic, legal, and so forth – that has not changed over time and that does not continue today in our high velocity world to change, reproduce, differentiate, specialize, and reintegrate ever more rapidly. I contend that social organizations, integral components of institutions and the primary agency of institutional change represent the proper foci for the explanation of evolution. To suggest this process (or almost any other related to the evolution paradigm) leads to the quagmire of points of view, muddled semantic discriminations, and contradictions among advocates of the paradigm.

Goldschmidt argues that social institutions do not evolve. ‘Rather,’ – Goldschmidt asserts, – ‘they adjust to meet new circumstances as they arise’ (1959: 106). For Goldschmidt (also see Cohen 1968b; Bennett 1976), adjustments represents short term strategies by which members of a society cope with problems that are triggered by the quotidian pressures of social life. Cohen, on the other hand, draws intellectual sustenance from a variety of sources (Cohen 1971: 21–22) to argue that institutions provide the modus operandi of cultural evolution understood as ‘adaptation ... success measured by the ability of a population to survive and reproduce’ (Сohen 1971: 5). Claessen, as are others who have a broad perspective of culture, is ambiguous about the nature of culture involved in evolution. At one point Claessen asserts that, ‘evolution is ... concerned with changes in culture’ (2000: 3). Later he reduces culture to its institutional components by arguing that ‘evolution (is) the phenomenon that institutions ... in the course of time will be subject to structural change’ (Ibid.: 153, parenthesis inserted).

Recall that Lowie (1948: 32) suggests that social organization can evolve only if the changes in the organization are permanent, that is ‘not ephemeral and long lasting’. As I conceive evolution, few changes in social organization are permanent. Instead, social organizations are subject to myriad on-going systemic adjustments, the synergy of which results ultimately in the differentiation, specialization, and integration of social roles and institutions that account for evolution.

The semantic and conceptual disjunctions that pervade the writings of evolutionist anthropologists go beyond disagreements over the role of institutions in evolution. They are marred by indifference to some variations in ideas that were cleared up long ago. Perhaps the most relevant and egregious of these disjunctions is the considerable ambiguity and confusion among evolutionists regarding the ideas of social structure and social organization and their relationship to evolution.

In the purely theoretical discussions of evolution that are largely devoid of ethnographic contexts, some evolutionists apparently find little reason to address the nuances of social structures and social organizations (White 1949; Steward 1955; Sahlins and Service 1960; Harris 1979; Carneiro 2003). They focus instead on the implicit power of the idea of culture to make their points. Others who apply the idea of structure and organization to identifiable ethnographic consequences of ‘cultural evolution’ often integrate the idea of a social structure into the idea of a social organization (White 1959; Service 1962). Still others who rely on ethnographic demonstrations of evolution may refer indiscriminately to structure and organization (Cohen 1971; Claessen 2000). The characteristics of these social relations are not always clearly delineated and frequently are used interchangeably. The ambiguity regarding structure and organization persists despite the fact that their properties represent a dialectic that was resolved long ago (Linton 1936; Firth 1951, 1954) and, as I will show below, negate to my satisfaction the idea that social structures evolve and are instead, from my point of view, the product of the evolution of social organization.

Social structures are constituted of categories of social statuses that represent the static positions people hold in societies: mother, warrior, doctor, friend, and so forth (Linton 1936). A chart showing a configuration of kinship statuses frozen in a moment of ethnographic time would be a classical anthropological depiction of this kind of social relation. In an evolutionary perspective, at least since Spencer (1886: 331), social structures have been depicted most commonly as those static positions that are embedded in economic, political, religious and the other social relations, or as social relations established in evolutionary stages, such as bands, pastoralists, tribes, chiefdoms, horticulturalists, and states. Some savants also reject the idea of social structure because politically conservative functionalists, such as Parsons, use it to reject any idea of conflict as a motive force in evolution (Lenski 1966; Harris 1979).

Social organizations, on the other hand, are constituted of categories of social roles. Social roles embody the agency and practices that are inherent in the statuses that people hold: mothers engage in mothering, politicians in politics, soldiers fight battles, friends provide aid and comfort, and so forth. In practice each status will embody several roles and considerable multitasking. The roles of a soldier may include fighting battles, winning the hearts and minds of potential enemies, killing enemies, training recruits, building bridges, being a husband, son, and father (Linton 1936; Firth 1951, 1954). In practice, the various contexts in which the roles of a status may be deployed reflect the inherent impermanency and fluidity of social organization that provides stimuli for evolutionary change.

The inherent complexity and dialectic of social roles and their actor-induced performances are the fundamental ingredients that drive the changes in social relations that impel an ‘increased complexity’ represented by the differentiation, specialization, and integration of social organizations. In short, social structures, the static quality of social relations depicted as frozen examples in evolutionary typologies (bands, tribes, agriculturalists), are the consequence of the reproductive and ongoing, persistent evolutionary pulsations in the practices of role playing agents and agencies that constitute social organizations. The differentiation and specialization produced by the practices of agents within and between social organizations accounts more accurately and nomothetically for evolution than the accumulation of complementary culture traits. A model to depict the evolution of social organization requires an epistemological foundation that lends itself to the praxis of data and theory.

Social Organizations and Evolution


Strategies by which evolutionists gather and organize ethnographic data – the epistemological foundation of the evolution paradigm – to render them applicable to a problem are under-developed and capricious. It is not unusual for practitioners to neglect to inform how ethnographic data is procured to enable it to be processed into explanations regarding evolution and the maintenance of life and identity. But it is essential for evolutionist anthropologists to control a body of ethnographic data. There are few acceptable short cuts to the collection of these data.14

Y. A. Cohen was, arguably, one of the most ethnographically informed anthropologists. He acquired his ethnographic data the old fashioned way – he read most of it himself, at least early in his career. He began to acquire the ethnographic knowledge that led to his series, Man in Adaptation (1968a, 1968b, 1971 and other publications), during an appointment early in his career at a research institute. He continued thereafter to augment this knowledge. Later in his career he did this with the assistance of graduate students.15

When Claessen and Skalník (1978) initiated the ‘early state project’ they were, arguably, the most transparent in revealing how to collect and interpret data. In compiling The Early State volume, they obtained ethnographic data on 20 ‘early states’ from contributors who provided the ethnographic data chapters to the volume. Each contributor was requested to supply specific information on a number of traits that Claessen and Skálník extrapolated from ethnographies on preindustrial state formations. From these data, Claessen (1978) established an evolutionary taxonomy of inchoate, typical, and transitional early states. He continued to augment these data and rely on them for a number of subsequent volumes and publications on the ‘early state project’.

Below I shall suggest a research strategy that will elicit data (see appendix)16 on the social organizations related to the spheres of institutionalized social activity that constitute human societies and organize these data taxonomically (Table 1). The result of this exercise will reveal a model of the general evolution of social organizations from least to most differentiated, specialized, and integrated.17

Table 1

Ataxonomic classification of levels of integration

The first step requires the selection of a sample of ethnographies related to the levels of integration identified in Table 1. One ethnography representative of each level of integration will provide more ethnographic data than most anthropologists control and the sample can be augmented over time. The second step involves extracting the ethnographic data that are related to the institutionalized spheres of social activity (economics, politics, etc.) in Table 1 for each society in the sample. When the collection of data is complete they should show that nomadic hunters and gatherers and industrial state formations represent, respectively, the least and most differentiated, specialized, and integrated levels of integration. Sedentary foraging, horticultural, pastoral, and agricultural societies represent intermediate levels.

At the height of the neo-evolution renaissance, Leach (1961) condemned evolutionist research strategies and the taxonomies they often produced. He argued that evolutionists merely pigeon-holed data and equated their research strategies to butterfly collecting. Leach's argument refers more to the 19th century evolution than the neo-evolution of the mid-twentieth century.

In the 19th century the ethnographic record was just beginning to expand. Many of the taxonomies generated by these data were speculative creations. Many were based on the presumption of a unilineal evolution through which all human societies were thought to have passed. Others were dedicated to discovering the historic origin of specific cultural traits, such as incest, the family, and religion. Some were simply fanciful. By the early 20th century the 19th century evolution paradigm had collapsed under attacks from cultural relativists, epistemological vulnerability, and, perhaps most significantly, its association with Marxist thinking.

The epistemology of the neo-evolution of the mid-twentieth century was established on a more precisely developed body of ethnographic data and ethnology. The problems addressed by the neo-evolution paradigm remained broadly the same as that of its 19th century predecessor: how to demonstrate and account for the evolution of human societies and cultures. The methodology used to accomplish this, the praxis of theory and data, was more scientifically rigorous and nomothetically oriented. Various taxa, the state for example, and larger taxonomies, such as Table 1, provided mechanisms either to generate inductively or apply deductively hypotheses to explain the reproduction of recurrent features of social and cultural phenomena.18

The taxonomy represented by the levels of integration (Table 1) is, like other taxonomies, merely a heuristic device to make sense out of a disparate body of data. In anthropology, ethnographic data provide the epistemological foundation from which evolutionist anthropologists constructed evolutionary taxonomies. In the evolution paradigm established by Service (1962), bands, tribes, chiefdoms (and subsequently states), represent the taxa of one taxonomic classification. Each taxon, bands for example, represents a predictable range of recurrent social organizations wherever the taxon is found worldwide. An anthropologist informed by ethnographic data ought to be able to describe and analyze in detail the social organizations and pertinent culture traits associated with the various taxa.

Cohen (1969) was a past-master at this exercise. For example, in one paper he used ethnographic data to establish a taxonomy of incorporative and expropriated state formations. He then used ethnographic data to explain how practices related to adultery, incest, and celibacy accounted for differences between each taxon. Analyses of urban states in the Old and New Worlds allowed Adams (1966) to explain recurrent regularities in the evolution of cities and help to disprove Wittfogel's (1957) hypotheses that the origin of state formations relied on the development of irrigation. Other evolution problems may require a different classification, such as the evolution of state formations (Claessen 1978), or none at all, such as the origin of the state (Carneiro 1970; Service 1975). In the neo-evolution paradigm the causes of evolution became less imaginary and more nomothetically directed.


The development of an extensive ethnographic record in the first half of the 20th century provided the ethnographic and taxonomic epistemological foundation for the development of the neo-evolution paradigm that emerged in the 1960s. This foundation enabled the modern praxes by which anthropologists related data and theory to explain an array of evolutionary phenomena. Among others, these include the origin of state formations (Carneiro 1970) and their subsequent evolution (Claessen 1978; Grinin 2008), the emergence of social stratification and the hitherto unrecognized significance of the ramage as a component of social stratification (Kirchoff 1959 [1955]; Firth 1957; Sahlins 1958; Lenski 1966; Fried 1967), the ‘revolutions’ related to the evolution of civilizations (Ribeiro 1968), and the adaptations populations make to the energy harnessed by their socio-technological formations (Cohen 1968a, 1968b, 1971, 1983). The fundamental problem to which the evolution paradigm remains dedicated is an explanation of the cause(s) of the evolution of social organization.

Cause. The cause(s) of evolution has been an especially nettlesome problem for evolution theory. Service (1971) resolved this issue in part when he argued convincingly that there is no single prime mover of evolution. Still, there is a strong predisposition among evolutionists to rely on materialist explanations of evolution.

White (1949, 1959) suggested the original proposition that the amount of energy harnessed by a society's technology is the driving force of evolution. He argued this without developing the finer discriminations that a taxonomic classification might provide to demonstrate this hypothesis. He relied instead on a ‘general’ flow model of evolution to make his case. Cohen developed a materialist approach to evolution based on the idea of adaptation, ‘the key mechanism in the evolutionary process’ (Cohen 1971: 3). Cohen (1968a, 1968b) argued that societies and culture evolve as they adapt to their environments in direct relationship to the ability of a population to use a specific technology, such as digging sticks, hunting and gathering, industry, irrigation, or domesticated animals, to harness energy in an environment. Harris' (1979, 1997) developed the idea of cultural materialism to argue the hypothesis, noted earlier, that institutions (structures) and ideologies (superstructures) evolve in response to the ability of technologies related to modes of production to harness energy (infrastructure).19

These models support Carneiro's (2002, 2003) Marxist argument that materialist approaches have provided the most powerful explanation for change in the evolution paradigm. But they allow the mistaken idea that materialist factors – technologies and energy sources, for example – are irrefutable causes of evolution. This is not so. Materialist factors only establish a correlation between techno-energy factors and the evolution of social organizations. Correlations are not necessarily causes.

There are those who think that current materialist formulations for evolution are simply more sophisticated concatenations of preexisting idea that have matured as old wine in new bottles. They seek other, less correlative and more direct triggers for evolution, such as structural impulses (Claessen 2000) or the role of the active agent (Roscoe 1993). Two models have been suggested recently that attempt to account for less materialist evolutionary triggers:20 The Complex Interaction Model (CIM hereafter) and the genetic pulse. The CIM is the product of work by Professor Claessen and various collaborators (Cleassen 2000, 2006; Claessen, Van de Velde and Smith 1985; Claessen and Van de Velde 1987, 1991; Claessen and Oosten 1996; Claessen and Van Bakel 2006). The genetic pulse was suggested by Kurtz (2001, 2004). Each model considers how and why evolution takes place.

The CIM represents a ‘general model of evolution’ that is intended primarily to account for how ‘socio-political organizations’ evolve (Claessen 2000: 155). Because some societies, such as nomadic foragers, do not have identifiable political structures the CIM focuses on the political evolution of chiefdoms and early state formations for which political structures may be identified ethnographically (Claessen, Van de Velde and Smith 1985; Claessen 2000: 162). In one context the CIM accounts for the evolution of chiefdoms and states in general. In a second context the CIM account for the evolution of chiefdoms and states that occur as ‘streams’ in specific geographic areas of the world (Claessen 2000; Claessen and Van Bakel 2006).

To explain how evolution takes place in chiefdoms and state formations the CIM relies heavily on the interaction of four primary factors. These include the ‘format of the society’ (also identified as the ‘societal format’), economy, ideology, and socio-political organization. The format of the society refers to the relationship between the size of the population and its means of production and provides the framework within which evolution occurs. To determine evolution through the CIM it is necessary to establish the nature of the interaction between these factors. This, admittedly, is difficult (Claessen 2000: 155–156, 161). To develop the CIM to account for the evolution of early states and chiefdoms Claessen and his collaborators demonstrate the varying and reciprocal influence of the factors that determine how their interaction triggers evolution.

In one test case that demonstrated the power of the CIM as a general model for the evolution of early states, Claessen, Van de Velde and Smith (1985: 255; also see Claessen 2000: 155) determined that the reciprocal influences of ‘ideology, format of the society, and ... the economy (created) the conditions under which socio-political organization emerges ... (and trigger) ... more elaborate development’ (Claessen 2000: 155). In this example ‘socio-political organization became the fourth factor ... which influenced the other three ... as a co-determinant’ and resulted in evolution (Ibid.). Apparently non-evolutionary changes may occur as a result of the interaction of factors related to the economy, social format and ideology. But evolution, understood here as changes in the complexity of social structures associated with these three factors, occurred only when sociopolitical organization was injected into the equation (Ibid.: 155; Claessen 2006: 9). Claessen (2000) and his collaborators also postulated that evolution would occur when the four primary factors of the CIM interacted reciprocally with other secondary factors, such as the physical environment (water, soils) and social environment (neighbouring societies).

In other contexts Claessen and various collaborators hypothesize that the CIM may account for evolutionary regularities and differences in ‘streams’ of political organization in different parts of the world. In this context the CIM approximates Steward's demonstration of how the ‘culture core’ composed of social, political and religious patterns are the consequence of subsistence activities and economic arrangements in multilinear courses of evolution (Steward 1955: 37). In a specific example, Claessen and Van Bakel (2006) demonstrate how the interaction among the four major factors and secondary factors of the CIM influenced streams of political evolution in Africa and in Oceania.

To the credit of Claessen and his collaborators, they do inject the role of the agent in evolution into the model of the CIM to explain why evolution takes place. With rare exception (Roscoe 1993; Kurtz 2001, 2004, and below) this aspect of evolution has been slighted. Under the influence of the CIM they address the role of the agent in two contexts.

In the first and most general accounting of the agent in evolution the CIM relies on a human choice model as a response to problems related to providing for human necessities: food, clothing, shelter, protection. In this argument people in general make choices on how to cope with survival based upon preceding conditions that influence subsequent conditions: ‘action invokes reaction (that) set off a series of continual changes’ (Claessen 2006: 13; also see Idem 2000: 163ff.). In the second context the CIM acknowledges the possible role of the ‘great man or woman’, such as Jeanne d'Arc or Jenghis Khan, to stimulate evolution is specific historic or evolutionary contexts (Idem 2000: 161ff.).

The CIM works best as an explanation of evolution at a high level of abstraction. To demonstrate how the CIM works ‘in concrete cases, the factors given are insufficiently specific’ (Claessen 2000: 155). But then evolution is not usually construed in terms of individual societies. Instead almost all evolutionary models are designed to offer explanations at a high level of abstraction. The model of the genetic pulse is no different. But in some contexts it does differ significantly from the CIM.

The genetic pulse does not represent a ‘general model’ of evolution, nor is it concerned specifically with the evolution of socio-political evolution. Instead the genetic pulse suggests a model of general evolution within which political evolution occurs as a component of the general pattern. It argues that the causes of general evolution are, in any specific or even general way, largely unknown and unknowable. How to account for evolution given these postulations is the problem the genetic pulse addresses.

The genetic pulse postulates that ‘no single force moves evolution. Instead sundry forces are always at work at any given historical moment and at any given historical moment some forces will be more important than others. But none works to the exclusion of others (Kurtz 2001: 138). The forces that stimulate evolution in the genetic pulse represent a ‘congeries of impulses that emanate from the dynamic interactions of material elements, environmental conditions, ideational constructs, and human practices’ (Idem 2004: 155). Within that congeries of sundry evolutionary forces, two factors represent constants that are central to and rely on the practices of human agents involved in material and ideational dimensions of the pulse. These constants refer to contradictions in social relations and practices related to hegemonic culturation (Idem 1996a, 1996b, 2001, 2004). Each of these factors privileges the role of the agent in evolution. The agents' engagement with social contradictions informs why evolution takes place and, as a critical cultural component of hegemonic culturation, how it takes place. I also introduce liminality as a temporal-spatial dimension of evolution within which the sundry forces of the genetic pulse interact dynamically to stimulate the evolution of social organizations.

Contradictions in social life refer to those discrepant principles and practices that are characterized by two or more entities that are constituted by virtue of being integral and mutually interdependent features of a social organization and, therefore, potentially in conflict by virtue of their relationship (Callinicos 1988). Because of their potential to evoke conflict, social organizations become both the medium for and the outcome of the practices of agents dedicated to resolving contradictions that are inherent in all social organizations (Giddens 1979). The driving agency of the genetic pulse – why social organization evolves – results from the feedback between contradictions and their resolutions. As contradictions in social organizations are either resolved (rare) or satisfactorily adjusted to extant circumstances, other contradictions emerge that again demand eventually the attention of human agents. Evolution may not be the immediate consequences of an adjusted or resolved contradiction. But over time the accumulation of these adjustments, their relation to other elements of the pulse, and their fixes result in the qualitative changes that indicate evolution (Giddens 1979; Roscoe 1993; Kurtz 2001, 2004).

This approach challenges Carneiro's Marxist-based argument that material forces alone drive evolution. In defence of a materialist causality in evolution Carneiro asserts that ‘ideas are not uncaused causes’ (2002: 96). This kind of thinking represents ‘a misdirected scholarly orthodoxy and epistemological bias’ (Kurtz 2004: 151). A logical response to Carneiro's materialist bias is that neither are material forces uncaused causes. Even culture, conceptualized differently from the Tylorian prejudice that attends most evolutions thinking, may be implicated as an evolutionary force. I demonstrate this below.

Hegemonic culturation refers to the interface of hegemony as an ‘intellectual and moral leadership’ (Gramsci 1971: 57)21 and the idea of culture as ‘the exercise of thought, the acquisition of general ideas, the habit of connecting cause and effect ... enlivened by organization’ (Idem 1917: 44, cited in Buttigieg 1987: 20). Hegemonic culturation refers to the practices by which hegemonic agents (cultural hegemons) – leaders, influentials, intellectuals (from ruling and subaltern classes), associations, social categories – use power constituted of material and ideational resources to exert influence and inculcate through their rhetoric, discourses, and actions ideas that motivate populations to become aware of and change their socially and culturally constructed ways of understanding how things ought to happen, that is their culturally engrained ‘habit of connecting cause and effect’ (Ibid.). Contradictions that demand resolution by hegemonic agents emerge most critically at the interface of those conditions where those who see no need to change and those who do engage their mutual power resources in conflict.22

In short, the practices of hegemonic agents and culture itself – that agency of ongoing change in a populations' perceptions and comprehensions of cause and effect in their actions and social relations – helps to drive the evolution of social organization (see Kurtz 2004). This is difficult to accomplish precisely because changes in culture require people to change how they think things should happen! There are conditions under which contradiction resolution and hegemonic culturation (and the CIM)23 are likely to be most effective. I postulate that the impact of contradiction resolution and hegemonic culturation is most likely to initiate evolution when they occur with other sundry agencies of the genetic pulse in the interstitial limens between extant and as yet unformulated social organizations and cultures (Turner 1969, 1974, 1979; Kurtz 1996, 2004).

Liminality refers to the condition that occurs at those real and abstract points in space and time – limens – when the viability and coherence of existing social organization are challenged and contradicted by newer, crystallizing organizations (Turner 1969, 1974, 1979).24 Limens are those abstract spaces where structures, organizations, and identities become less coherent and obvious; where social and cultural forces in the genetic pulse may evoke change in practices, material objects, organizations, symbols, meaning, and values that birth a different sociocultural reality than that which existed before entry into the limen.

Liminal phases are difficult to depict graphically. In general they are the spaces indicated in Table 1 by the lines that exist between institutions, politics and religion, for example, and taxa of evolutionary classifications, such as industrial and post-industrial formations. In Table 1, I use dotted lines instead of a solid line to convey an example of a liminal space between an industrial and post-industrial level of integration. Within that limen I suggest that a post-industrial level of integration is incubating and growing to challenging gradually the social organizations and cultures that characterize the existing industrial stage of evolution.25

We know very little of what takes place in the limen that might lead to the threshold of an identifiable evolutionary stage. I postulate that the limen between evolutionary taxa, such as industrial and post-industrial levels of integration, represents the zone in which the activities and power of agents become significant in evolution. They strive to resolve contradictory relations and hegemonically enculturate populations that inhabit the limen so that one adaptation gradually gives way to another. It is in these liminal interstices that the practices of hegemonic agents – the genetic pulse in general – alter organizational forms sufficiently that when they cross the liminal threshold and emerge they are constituted of different organizations than those that entered the limen and are adapted to a different, theoretically more complex institutional framework. The nineteenth century evolutionists sought the historical origins of cultural traits. The limen provides the context in which the origin of social organizations is the result of ‘nomothetic practices (that give rise) to a type of institution under a set of recurrent conditions’ (Harris 1979: 78, parenthesis inserted).

In an evolutionary context, liminal spaces provide the source for the origin of different social and cultural condition. They may occur between evolutionary stages, semi-sedentary hunters and gatherers and semi-nomadic swidden horticulturalists for example. They may occur in sociopolitical organizations when big men evolve into chiefs (Kurtz 2004), and in economic organizations when peripheral, underdeveloped markets become developed factor markets (Idem 1974). Total societies, usually ‘tribal’ or pre-agrarian (even industrial) may enter a liminal state that sets it apart from other societies for a time as its members work out problems related to their existence and identities (Turner 1979: 11ff.). Each of these developments share a liminal condition in which something emerges that was qualitatively different from that which entered the limen.

As a cultural force, liminality provides the venue where the dialectic between those who want change and those who resist it results in conflict (Giddens 1979; Roscoe 1993; Kurtz 2001).26 But the very fact that the dialectic exists connotes a tendency for an institutional complex to transmutate and reintegrate into something else that becomes part of new institutional complex. Limens provide the indeterminate time-space continuum where, under pressure from the genetic pulse, the practices and exertions of power of cultural hegemons resolve contradictions in social organizations that presage the evolution of different social organizations and complementary material and ideational cultural objects.

The model of the genetic pulse may be no less abstract than the CIM. But it does differ in postulations. As I concluded elsewhere (Kurtz 2004), the genetic pulse relies on the synergy of ideas, environmental conditions, interventions by cultural hegemons, material conditions, and an array of other sundry forces. The forces in the genetic pulse that drive evolution do not have equal impact. Change agents exist in all institutions and their change-evoking practices are historically and ethnographically situational, contextual, and contingent (Idem 2001: 155). Evolution occurs in different contexts at different times under different circumstances, but in recurrent and regular patterns. Similar to the CIM, the genetic pulse is rooted in complex interactions that involve human agents. But unlike the CIM the genetic pulse accords the human agent a more impelling role in the resolution of contradictions that are universal to the human condition and in the subsequent evolution of social organizations in all types of societies and cultures.


This paper is dedicated to the presumption that culture does not evolve. Instead I argue that the evolution of the non-biological aspects of the human condition is better explained by investigating the evolution of social organization. Culture accumulates and may become quantitatively more complex over space and time. But the qualitative changes that distinguish evolution are the consequence of the differentiation, specialization, and integration of the social organizations and the role performances of agents they embody and that are embedded in the institutions that constitute human societies.

As a methodology to explain evolution I pose a number of queries in an attached appendix. These queries are related to the institutionalized spheres of human activity identified in Table 1 that are common to all human societies. The queries in the appendix enable the extrapolation of data from the ethnographies that constitute the fundamental epistemology for the evolution paradigm. These data allow the establishment of taxonomic classifications that make sense of the plethora of data the ethnographic record provides. Taxonomic classifications in conjunction with ethnographic data also enable the development of inductive and deductive hypotheses to explain the qualitative changes in human societies over time and space. Anthropologists have developed different strategies to accomplish these explanations. Traditionally most strategies have argued for materialist explanations. I suggest two strategies, the CIM and genetic pulse, which in one form or another provide alternatives to the materialist bias that pervades the thinking of evolutionist anthropologists (also see Roscoe 1993).

The cachet attached to the singular importance of the idea of culture to anthropology is largely an American obsession. It pervades almost all aspects of thinking and research by American ‘cultural’ anthropologists, which includes almost all American anthropologists. Cultural evolution constitutes one of the field's paradigms, and that too is largely an American construction, even though today the paradigm of cultural evolution has little credibility with American anthropologists other than archaeologists. Current research related to the evolution paradigm is largely a European endeavour. While some European anthropologists still refer to the paradigm as cultural evolution, evolutionary thinking outside the United States is conceived largely as social evolution. This is perhaps nowhere more evident than the journal dedicated to Social Evolution and History. The editors of the journal apparently have some deeper insight into evolution than is common among American anthropologists. In this paper I have tried to identify the rationale for the idea of social evolution as it is used by those anthropologists who remain dedicated to the evolution paradigm.


1 Paradigms related to political economy and historical and cultural materialism also are dedicated primarily to concerns regarding the maintenance of life.

2 I will not engage in a review of the evolution paradigm. That has been done by others (see Harris 1968; Claessen 2000; Carneiro 2003, among others). My intention is to present my point of view on this topic and will rely on the contributions of others only as they related to the problem at hand.

3 If Professor Claessen (Kurtz personal communication with Claessen 2010) is correct, the idea of cultural relativism and its hostility to evolutionary thinking is not well established in Europe. In the United States cultural relativism emerged under the aegis of Franz Boas as an anti-Marxist intellectual posture that was hostile to the idea of evolution. Stocking (1974: 66) cites Boaz's comment that, ‘in ethnology all is individuality’ and reminds that by ‘individual’ Boaz meant individual cultures. Relativism has carried though paradigmatic contexts in American anthropology (historical particularism, structuralism, ethnoscience) to the present where it persists in postmodern thinking. Relativists assume a severe idiographic methodology that decries evolutionary thinking and the comparative method upon which it rests. Relativists hold that the culture associated with each society if unique, not comparable, and grounded in ideational premises that eschew materialist thinking.

4 Also see Kurtz (1996a, 1996b) for political economic applications of this idea.

5 Past doyens of the evolution paradigm are represented by White (1949, 1959), Steward (1949, 1955), Service (1962, 1971), and Harris (1979). Those from the present include Carneiro (2003), Claessen (2000, 2006), Bondarenko, Grinin, and Korotayev (2002). Among others are Goldschmidt (1959), Lenski (1966), Adams (1966), Cohen (1968a, 1968b, 1971, 1983), Ribeiro (1968), Peacock and Kirsch (1980), Hallpike (1986), Roscoe (1993), and Graber (1995, 2007).

6 Fried's gratuitous comment, ‘it may be asked why define culture when we want to talk about political organization? It is precisely because we want to talk about political organization that we define culture’ (Fried 1967: 7), is an example of such a rhetorical usage. The definition provided by Peacock and Kirsch – ‘culture is a system of logically related ideas and values by participants in a social system which in turn is a system of interacting roles and groups’ – is curious because it derives from notoriously conservative point of view provided by Talcott Parson's The Structure of Social Action (Peacock and Kirsch 1980: 21).

7 White's (1949: 122) attempt to identify symbols as the core feature of cultural is an exception.

8 Long ago cultural relativists rejected such all inclusive definitions of culture in favour of definitions that relied on more discriminating idealist factors, such as symbols, meanings, ideas, structuralism, mind, and the like.

9 By ‘material’ here I mean those ethnographic items that comprise material culture, not a causal force in evolution.

10 See Graber (2007) for a defense of the paradigm of cultural evolution against arguments that favour Darwinian and population genetic approaches to the paradigm. I concur with Graber on this issue, but my criticisms of the paradigm are founded on different premises.

11Also see Service (1971: 12) for a similar evaluation.

12 Carneiro (2003: 27) alludes to this change in time and thinking about the idea of evolution.

13 Carneiro (2003) addresses many of Spencer's idea. All of Spencer's writings are available for perusal on line.

14 The most complete representation of ethnographic data is provided by the Human Relations Area Files (HRAF). These data are most valuable when used to test theories quantitatively through statistical analyses. The HRAF deprives the anthropologist of the nuances between data and theory – praxis – that derives form the sensitivity for the ‘feel’ of the data, their context, relationship, impact and extent that is acquired by one's own endeavours to develop an ethnographic sample of one's choosing. The most valuable contributions to the evolution paradigm remain qualitative in their nomothetic impact.

15 The appendix attached to this paper is largely the result and demonstration of Cohen's ethnographic acumen. As a research assistant to Cohen, I collected data for some of his later projects (Cohen 1969). I also contributed to several of Claessen's subsequent volumes on the early state project.

16 The topics that comprise the appendix represent a modified and edited version of queries that was distributed by Y. A. Cohen in a graduate seminar on the Evolution of Culture, 1965.

17 The model and data also can explain the evolution of more specific concerns, such as governments and bureaucracies, social stratification, and religions and religious practitioners, and it also is amenable to inductive and deductive nomothetic applications

18 The narrative approach by which White (1959) addresses the general evolution of culture is an exception.

19 The ethnographic foundation of this model is presented best in various editions of Harris's (e.g., 1997) introductory textbook, Culture, People, Nature: An Introduction to General Anthropology. The emic and etic components of the model are available in Harris (1979: 51–54).

20 Roscoe (1993) suggested a third model for evolution. I do not discuss Roscoe's idea because of lack of space, his minor role as a player in evolution theory, and because I have discussed it in detail elsewhere (Kurtz 2001: 150–153). Roscoe (1993), like so many others (Claessen 2000; Kurtz 2001, 2004; Grinin 2003, 2009; Korotayev 2008; Bondarenko 2005; Grinin and Korotayev 2009), was interested primarily in political evolution. His major contribution was the injection of the agent as motivating force in political evolution. I will return to that later.

21 See Kurtz (1996a) for the development of this idea and (Idem 1996b, 2001) for other applications of it.

22 At the time I am writing this, no better example of such a conflict could be found than that which is depicted by the goal of the Obama administration in the United States to effect health care reform and the resistance from others to those reforms.

23 Even though the CIM approaches evolution with different criteria, Claessen points out ‘There has to be a specific ‘context’, within which ... evolution takes place’ (2000: 155). I suggest that the idea of liminal spaces (discussed below) provides such a context for evolution.

24 Van Gennep (1960) distinguished three phases in a rite of passage: separation, transition (limen), incorporation. Turner (1974, 1979) has used the idea of the limen to explore other ritual contexts. I use the idea here to account for a factor in evolution.

25 If I am correct, this liminal phase contains the emerging social organizations of nascent world system of government.

26 Service (1960) referred to this dialectic as ‘the law of evolutionary potential’ which, most succinctly, argues that the more adapted a society is to its environment the more likely it will be to resist change.


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Data Sheet

(Edited and adapted from a handout distributed by Dr. Y. A. Cohen, Seminar on Cultural Evolution, Department of Anthropology, University of California – Davis, 1965)


Society/culture investigated (alternative names?)



Bibliography: identify time periods to which data refer:

Climate (arctic, tropical, etc.):

Elevation (in feet):

Rainfall: Mean annual _____ Brief torrents_____ Steady storms_____

Soil quality:

General topography:

Availability of water:

Population density (seasonal variations if any):

Are these people the original settlers of the area or are they intruders into a settled area:

Describe the nature of the natural and artificial environment in which the people live:


1. What is considered to be food by the people (anything that grows, moves, anything except totemic foods, only certain wild/domestic foods, etc.)

2. What is proportion (%) of the following to the total food supply:

Wild growing food_____ Free ranging animals_____ Fish_____ Birds_____ Domestic fowl_____ Domestic plants_____ Domestic animals_____ Products of domestic animals_____ Others (specify)_____

3. Adult men and women's (identify which) in terms of % of the following to the food supply:

Hunting, trapping_____ Gathering_____ Fishing_____ Fowling_____ Herding/grazing____ Dairying_____ Basketry_____ Clearing land_____ Soil preparation_____ Planting_____ Care/protection of crops_____ Harvesting_____ Loafing_____ Care of children_____ Preparation of food for eating_____ Marketing_____ Other (specify)_____

4. Frequency of food shortages (none, weekly, monthly, etc.)______

5. If recurrent shortages, who is affected: everyone_____ children_____ elders_____ Younger adults_____ Lower status individual_____ Others (specify)_____

6. Place of hunted animals in the economy:

List all animals hunted AND not hunted.

If hunted, what is the organization of personnel in the hunt for each animal?

For each type of animal hunted, list apparatus (nets, etc.) and procedure (stalking, etc.) used.

7. Place of domestic animals in the economy

Identify all domesticates______

Uses for domesticated animals:

meat for consumption_____ regularly_____ feasts only____

Products for consumption: milk_____ hides____ horn____ others specify_____

Domesticates used for:

Transportation_____ Hunting_____ warfare_____ Prestige_____ Exchange_____ Others (specify) ______

Protective enclosures of domesticates and from whom:

Securing domesticates: breeding_____ trade_____ purchase_____ raiding_____ other_____

8. Instruments and means of production:

Arrows_____ Spears_____ Bludgeons_____ Guns_____ Poisons_____ Fishing gear_____ Digging stick/hoe_____ Cutting brush_____ Burning brush_____ Machines (identify kind)_____ Metallurgy (identify metals)_____ Animals (specify)_____ Deliberate fertilization_____ Plow_____ Terracing_____ Irrigation_____ Deliberate crop rotation_____ reservation of substantial amounts of flora_____ fish_____ meat_____ others (specify)_____

9. Routine of productive activities:

Seasonal Migration_____ with/without group fission_____ (identify who is involved)

Transhumance_____ with/without fission_____ (identify who is involved)

Migrations _____ (why, where, permanency)

Shifts of village settlements _____ (frequency)

Permanent settlements_____ (no. of households, individuals, settlement pattern)

10. Division of labor:

Formal/informal age groups/sets for Craft specialization (nature of craft)_____

Caste specialization (specify)_____Regional specialization_____ Guilds or other associations_____

11. Organization of labor: ego works most productively with:

Alone_____ Wife (wives)_____ Sons (all)_____ Son (eldest)_____ Sons (younger)_____ Bros sons_____ His sons and Bro sons_____ Full bro_____ Half-Bro_____ Other kins (specify)_____ Non-kin (specify)_____

12. Who is responsible for initiating a productive enterprise?

Leader/head (specify______ Prestigious individual_____ Owner of instruments of production_____ household head_____ foreman_____

13. Regulation of labor:

Corvee (purpose)_____ Wage work_____ Apprenticeship_____ Indenture_____ Slave_____ Calendrical _____ Intercommunity (how/who)_____

14. Goals of productive labor:

Subsistence primarily_____ Fulfil kin obligation_____ Sale_____ Barter_____ Marriage Payments (dowry/bride payment)_____ Personal wealth_____ Other (specify)_____

15. Extra-familial consumption:

Regular/recurrent exchange of equal amounts of food as part of subsistence_____

Regular/recurrent exchange of token amounts of food_____

Equal distribution of hunted meat/fish among members of hunting party_____

Equal distribution of hunted meat/fish among members of the community_____

Mutual assistance in times of need among kin, community regardless of kin_____

Reluctant sharing/no voluntary sharing_____

Loans with interest_____

Intercommunity barter/exchange_____

Purchase of staples, marketing_____

Inter-societal trade (e.g. Congo pygmy/horticulturalists, trading post, etc._____

Institutionalized trade (e.g. blood brothers)_____

16. Foci of economic cooperation (e.g. production, distribution, planning, etc.) ____

17. Foci of economic competition (e.g. amassment, competitive generosity, etc.)____

18. Indications of extreme wealth and poverty_____

19. Rationalizations for attachment to one form of livelihood over another, such as, it is wrong to scratch mother earth or for an elite to dirty one's hands_____


1. Acquisition of spouses:

Bride price_____ By whom given (groom, etc.) _____ To whom given (bride's fa, etc.)_____

Dowry_____ By whom given ____ To whom given_____

Suitor service_____ How long_____

Bride service_____ How long_____

Exchange marriage_____

Marriage by capture_____ Mock capture_____ War booty_____ Abduction_____

Adoptive marriage_____

Elopement_____ Wooing/courtship ending in marriage_____

Concept of romantic love is part of courtship?_____

Cross cousin marriage_____ Symmetrical _____ Asymmetrical _____

Possible_____ Preferred_____ required_____ Forbidden_____

Parallel cousin marriage_____

Possible_____ Preferred_____ Required_____ Expressly forbidden_____

Levirate_____ Sororate _____

2. Marriage:

Monogamy only_____ Polygyny permitted_____ Polyandry permitted_____

3. Divorce:

Indications, if any, regarding frequency_______

4. Household organization:

Independent nuclear family only_____ with hangers-on _____

Extended family (with centralized control) _____

Extended family (without centralized control) _____

Independent polygynous family_____

Communal household (e.g. long house) _____

Does household dissolve at death of head? _____

5. Rules of post-nuptial residence:

Patrilocal, bride changes community membership _____

Patrilocal, bride does not change community membership _____

Matrilocal, man changes community membership _____

Matrilocal, man does not change community membership _____

Avunculocal, man changes community membership _____

Avunculocal, man does not change community membership _____

Ambilocal _____

Neolocal _____

Non-establishment of common residence _____

Other (describe) _____

6. Marriage programming:

Arranged marriage _____

Go-betweens for prospective groom _____

Formal negotiations between respective families _____

Consummation of marriage by birth of first child _____

Parental approval needed for marriage _____

Other's approval needed for marriage (e.g. bro, si, mobro) _____

Marriage programming entirely in hands of couple _____

Tendency for geographically close people to marry _____

Age-set determination of time at marriage _____

Permission granted by local chief _____

Permission granted by paramount ruler _____

Individual minimum-age, achievement (e.g. vision) necessary for marriage _____

7. Exogamy and endogamy:

All consanguines prohibited from marrying _____

Only members of descent group prohibited from marrying _____

Member of descent group of some other consanguines forbidden to marry _____

All members of (territorial) community prohibited to marry _____

Nuclear family exogamy only _____

Territorial-community endogamy _____

Class endogamy _____

Caste endogamy _____

Religious endogamy _____

Ethnic endogamy _____

Other rules (describe) _____

8. Articulating rules of descent:

Patrilineal _____ Matrilineal_____ Double_____ Bilateral_____

9. Kin-group organization:

Clan­_____ localized_____ dispersed_____

Lineage_____ Localized_____ dispersed_____



Bilateral kindred_____ solidary_____ diffuse_____



Are clans and/or lineages ranked in real_____ or mythical _____ hierarchy of

Seniority and juniority_____

10. Inheritance (identify for what items, statuses, titles, etc.):

Patrilineal_____ Equal for sons_____ Primogeniture_____ Preferred____


Matrilineal_____ Mo-Da_____ MoBr-SiSo_____ Fa-So_____

Bilateral_____ Equal for both sexes_____ Sons get more_____ Daughters get more_____

Testamentary disposition_____ But all sons must inherit_____ But all sexes must Inherit_____

Parent has right to disinherit a son_____ a daughter_____

11. Kinship terminology

Father-uncle, mother-aunt: generational_____ lineal_____ bifurcate merging_____ bifurcate collateral_____

Cousin terminology: Eskimo_____ Hawaiian_____ Iroquois_____ Sudanese_____ Omaha_____ Pattern inadequately described by any of the foregoing (describe)______

12. Family – authority relationships:

Household head's authority in day-to-day activities absolute, not subject to

Authority outside household_____

Household head subject to others' authority in day-to-day activities_____

Who has this authority _____

13. Relationship between families:

Household's day-to-day relationships with consanguines most important_____

Household's relations with affinals most important_____

Household's relations with consanguines most important in other areas (which) ______ and most important with affinals in other areas (which)_____

Household's relations with consanguines and affinals equally important_____

Household's relations with kin and non-kin equally important_____

Household's relations with non-kin more important than with kin_____

Household isolated for about 6 months of the year_____

14. Relations between Br authority over Si and bond between Fa and So and MoBr and SiSo (Use + and – based on Levi-Strauss Structural Anthropology, pp. 40–51):

Fa-So _____ Hu-Wi______

MoBr-SiSo ______ Br-Si _______

15. Child – household relationships:

Extrusion (i.e. child cannot sleep under the same roof with parents) during first stage of puberty_________ For boys_____ for girls_____ both sexes____

Removal from the hh during the 2nd state of puberty, (e.g., under the guise of an apprenticeship system)_____ for boys_____ for girls _____ both sexes_____

Brother-sister avoidance_____

16. Does a married woman receive an appreciable portion of her food supply from a man other than her husband (e.g. from her Br, as in Trobriands) _____ if yes, from whom _____

In polygynous household

Do co-wives have common store of food (e.g. granary) _____

Does each co-wife have hew own store of food _____

Do co-wives have a common cooking place _____

Does each wife have her own cooking facilities_____

17. Do kinsmen have automatic rights to each other's food_____ implements_____ money_____ land_____ shelter_____ if yes to any above, which kinsmen_____

18. Are here any indications of economic separation between hu and wi (e.g. lending money with obligation to repay with or without interest, separate land holdings, separate money stores, etc.)

19. Avoidance relationships _____ With whom _____

Joking relationships _____ With whom _____

Respect relationships _____ With whom _____

20. Are there any indications as to regular points in the domestic cycle when households regularly fission (e.g. when offspring marry and go to reside neolocally, when eldest son leaves to establish his own productive household, etc.?)

21. To what extent are husband and wife roles interchangeable (e.g. both equal) in making same types of household decisions, can be equal in securing a livelihood for the family, can help in housework (e.g. washing dishes), taking care of children (e.g. changing and washing diapers, teaching children), entertain and visit together, etc.?

Table 2

Political organization

Note: Questions for columns 1–8 are on next page.

Questions for Table 2 on the previous page (questions apply to all columns):

1. What is the most inclusive, maximal, or widest ranging groupings to which the individual meaningfully and actively belongs? Check one only.

2. Which are cephalous groupings of the society? (Check all that are relevant.)

3. Which of these cephalous groupings have more than one head (e.g. Swazi paramountcy divided between King and Queen Mother, Plains India bands have a war chief and peace chief, etc.)?

4. Which group heads have non-derived – i.e. autonomous and undelegated – authority?

5. Which group heads have authority that is derived or delegated from a larger, more inclusive, or more powerful organization (e.g. local head man in a state formation)?

6. Which group heads have no authority in the fullest sense of the term but only prestige or, at most, episodic authority only for the moment or event?

7. To which group(s) is the individual expected to give political loyalty and allegiance?

8. Which is the most solidary grouping that, for the individual, is the most enduring, consistent, and important sphere of cooperation, reciprocity, and of mutual responsibility?

9. For state formations describe the composition of the paramountcy's council in terms of statuses (e.g. all are members of the paramountcy's lineage, each represents a component clan of the society, each represents a village, each represents a petty state, etc. (Describe the composition of local councils in the same terms.)

10. Are there periodic, regular, recurrent executions, sacrifices, slaughters or other killings of individuals? Or immolations, tortures, mass incarcerations? Where geographically are these carried out (in local community, central shrine, dispersed places like inquisitorial)?


11. Which grouping(s) in the society claim(s) the right of eminent domain? _________

Which grouping(s) or individual(s) claim(s) the prerogative of dispensing rights in land to the individual? ______

Who administers the system of land tenure (e.g. lineage head, clan chief, local headman, government bureaucracy)? ________

12. A person holds exploitative rights in land by virtue of membership in good standing in a state formation _____ city _____ community _____ clan _____ lineage _____ band _____ extended family hh _____

A person can hold rights to land anywhere by virtue of having purchased it _____ claimed it ______

13. At a man or woman's death his/her rights in land are inherited _____ revert to the community as a whole_____ revert to the local headman _____ revert to the paramountcy _____ lapse entirely _____

14. Tribute and taxation are:

Required to be given at stated intervals to a kin-group head _____

Required to be given at stated intervals to the community headman _____

Required to be given at stated intervals to the paramountcy _____

Local headman is tax collector for the paramountcy _____

Paramountcy has specially designated tax collectors ____

Individual is expected to make ‘free gifts’ to head of kin group _____ local headman _____

15. List the acts for which a man or woman can be


Deprived of rights in land_____

Banished, exiled, etc._____

By whom? _______

16. Is this a conquering ______ conquered _____ society, or neither? ______

17. Residence and mobility: A man …

May settle in any community he wishes _____

Must secure permission from the paramountcy before changing residence _____

Must secure permission from local headman to leave a community _____

And permission of new local headman to settle in new community _____

May leave any community but must secure permission of new local headman to settle there _____

Must secure consensus of community before settling there _____

Must, before settling in a community, secure rights in land from a clan chief _____ from a lineage head _____

Can settle only where he receives rights in land from his father _____ father in law _____

May reside only in a community where his descent group is represented _____

May reside only in a community where his wife's descent group is represented _____

Must live where a central governmental authority directs him to live _____

18. Most married men appear to live …

In their natal communities or neighborhoods _____

With consanguineal kinsmen, independent of natal origin _____

In communities other than those in which they were born _____

In one community during most of their lives _____

In two communities during most of their lives _____

In three or more communities during most of their lives _____

19. In the settlement of disputes, a man …

Must accept the decision of formally constituted court _____

Must accept the decision of a local headman _____

Must accept the decision of clan chief _____ lineage head _____ head of an extended family hh _____

Must abide by the consensus of his community _____

Relies on a group of kinsmen _____ non-kin allies_____ to enforce his demands

Relies on the feud as the principal mechanism _____

Relies on his own power to enforce his demands _____

20. For each cephalous grouping, what are the rules of the succession to office?

21. Feud, vendetta, intergroup lex talionis is … (check one)

Central to the maintenance of order _____

Frequent, but not central to the maintenance of order _____

Occasional _____

Rare, but present _____

Prohibited _____ by whom _____ punishment for engaging in it _____

Absent, but no expressly prohibited _____

22. Witchcraft, sorcery is… (check one)

Central to the maintenance of order with identifiable sorcerers _______

Central to the maintenance of order without identifiable sorcerers _____

Present but not central to maintenance of order with identifiable sorcerers ______

Present but not central to maintenance of order without identifiable sorcerers ___

Prohibited _____

Absent but not expressly prohibited _____

23. Communication:

Centrally controlled network of roads converging on central point and connecting most communities _____

Centrally controlled network of roads connecting most communities, but not converging on central point _____

Highway robbery _____ homicide _____ punishable by death _____ mutilation _____ other (specify) _____

Highways maintained by:

Corvee _____ administered by local headman _____ centrally appointed

Personnel_____ made up of age-sets_____

Permanent crews_____ administered by local headman_____ centrally appointed personnel_____ made up of age grades_____

Market system centrally controlled and sponsored_____

Local autonomous markets_____ locally controlled by kin groups_____ communities _____ regions_____ guilds _____

Market theft _____ homicide_____ dishonesty in weights and measures_____

Punishable by death _____ mutilation ____ other (specify) _____

24. Intergroup relations are:

Inter-family _____ inter-band _____ inter-tribal _____ inter-lineage _____ inter-village _____ inter-ethnic _____ inter-caste _____ international _____

Essentially nonexistent and are really interpersonal _____

25. Describe briefly the nature of inter-community organization for all societies, e.g. nonexistent, primus inter pares, ritually governed, under treaty, diplomatic, part of central vertical system, etc.

26. Do political parties or political movements exist? _____ If yes, are opposition parties legitimate? _____

27. Significant political offices are vested in:

Men only _____ at which levels _____

Mean and women ____ at which levels _____

28. Military:

Standing professional (specialized) army _____ centrally controlled _____

Units contributed in blocks by communities _____ kin groups _____

Central national army made up of age sets _____ centrally recruited _____

Units contributed in blocks by communities _____ kin groups _____


1. Is there any broadly based social grouping associating in common rights and each subject to its own politico-jural authority that has deities associated with it only and with no other?

Grouping Number of deities Deity type (animal spirit, ancestor,

Impersonal spirits, etc.)

Household _________________________________________________

Band _____________________________________________________

Congregation of bands _______________________________________

Lineage ___________________________________________________

Lineage segment ____________________________________________

Clan ______________________________________________________

Village ____________________________________________________

Village segment _____________________________________________

Guild ___________________________________________________

Caste ___________________________________________________

Class ___________________________________________________

Other __________________________________________________

Nation ____________________________________________________

Ruling class ______________________________________________

Ruling lineage ____________________________________________

Ruling clan _______________________________________________

Individual ________________________________________________

Commoner lineages ______________________________________

Commoner clan __________________________________________

Commoner villages _______________________________________

(If all the above spaces are left blank, it is assumed that this is a truly polytheistic society, that is, that there are as many deities in relation to which members of all groups in the society stand equally) _________

2. Who are the principal religious functionaries?

Every person his/her own religious functionary_____ band head _____ lineage head _____ clan head _____ village headman _____ paramount ruler _____ paramount ruler plus specialized personnel _____ specialized personnel but not the paramount ruler _____

3. If functionaries are heads of groups or specialized personnel, do they and the rest of religious company participate equally in ceremonies and ritual, or is there an uneven distribution between functionaries and company? _____ What is the distribution? _____

4. Rituals carried out Types of deities Frequency of ritual Type of ritual

(see Q. 1) (daily, weekly, etc.) (see below *)

At natural residence

of Deities (e.g. in forest)


At hh shrines

At local shrines


Multi band



Lineage segment



Village segment


Section/ward of city


At central national shrines

At central and local shrines

Local shrine regarded as

Derivative of central shrine

Local shrine independent of

Central shrine

How many national shrines are there _____

Types of ritual (last column above), e.g. return of portion of food to the species deity, sacrifice of animals and/or food stuffs, dance, prayer, token gifts to deity, promises to perfume a deed for deity in return for favor, etc.

5. Are members of any dispersed groups required to reassemble on religious ceremonial occasions _____ Which groups (from Q. 1,) __________

6. Are human sacrifices performed at religious sites or shrine? _____

At which sites or shrines _______

Do religious functionaries officiate at these sacrifices? _____ Which ones? ______

7. Note briefly whether religious personnel have political and/or jural responsibilities and/or influence

8. List all actions that incur punishment by deities and the nature of the punishment

9. Is the afterworld considered to be divided into a ‘heaven’ and ‘hell’ or some other reward/punishment division?

10. Are there beliefs about reincarnation? ______ What are they?_________

11. Is a language used in ritual that is different from the language of everyday use? _____

If yes, who understands this language? _____ Or is it rote? _______

12. If there are specialized religious personnel and offices:

Are these jobs confined to member of particular classes? _____

(Which) _____________

Are these jobs sought as means of mobility within a class system? ________

13. Is there religiously sponsored celibacy? ______

for men _____ women _____ both _____

14. Is there any religiously sanctioned immolation? _____ hair shirts____ self flagellation_____, drawing blood from oneself______ others (specify)_____

Positive sanction ______ Negative sanction _____ If sanction is positive, who is supposed to carry it out? (everyone, monks, priests, etc.) ________

15. Are women ever excluded systematically from religious ceremonies? _____

Are men excluded? _____ Are children excluded? _____

16. Does the religion of this society purport to be a derivative of a ‘great tradition’, ‘international’, or other supra-community religion? _______ If yes, how different does this religion appear to be from its local form? __________


1. What are the groupings (hh, clan, village, state formation, etc. – use Q.1 from the data sheet, ‘political organization’) in which pressures to conformity are most consistently brought to bear on the individual? ________________________

2. For each of the groupings in Q. 1, note the types of pressures that are brought to bear on the individual (e.g. threats of sorcery or accusation of sorcery, loss of cooperation with others. Loss of rights to land. Inquisition-type torture, etc.)________________________

3. What actions by individuals elicit these pressures? ____________

4. For each of the groupings in Q. 1, note whether there are designated personnel for the enforcement of conformity (e.g., plains police, civil police, national police, village headmen, priests, etc. _____________

5. Where are decisions reached to apply pressures to conformity?

In dyadic relations exclusively ______________________________

In extended family hh _____________________________________

Clan head acting at behest of family hh head ___________________

Lineage head acting at behest of extended family hh head _________

Local headman acting at behest of extended family hh head _______

Band leader acting on own initiative __________________________

Hh head acting on own initiative _____________________________

Lineage head acting on own initiative _________________________

Clan chief acting on own initiative ___________________________

Village council acting on behest of complainant _________________

Courts (which, see q. 6 below) acting on complaint ______________

Other (specify) ___________________________________________

6. Courts:

Local autonomous courts __________________

Independent of other bodies _______________

Are also religious bodies____________________

Are also village councils ___________________

Are also clan councils ______________________

Are circuits or branches of state judiciary _______

Nation courts only ___________________

Is there appeal from decisions of those above? ________

If so, from which __________ to which _________

Which of the courts have ritualized, formal, stereotyped procedures? ___________________________________________________________

Are there specialized lawyers? ______________________

7. Does local system contain the principle of joint liability ___________ or only individual (several) liability? __________________

If joint liability exists, to which action does it apply? _____________

And which kinsmen are involved? ______________________

8. Are there any actions (e.g. treason, homicide) for which a culprit's nuclear family are punished (executed, deprived of his/her property as a result of confiscation as part of punishment) in addition to the culprit?

Culprits actions type of punishment

Family of orientation ______________________________________

Family of procreation ______________________________________

9. Are there any types of sexual behavior that are punishable or actionable?

Type of behavior type of punishment

By males _______________________________________________

By females ______________________________________________

10. What are the consequences for an individual who refuses to work?

11. What are the beliefs about and consequences for a person who prefers to be alone most of the time?

12. What are the beliefs about and consequences for a person who

Strikes his father______

Strikes his mother______

Strikes his brother_______

Strikes a chief_______

13. What are the consequences for failure to pay debts because of

Refusal to pay______

Inability to pay______

14. If there are initiation ceremonies, what are the consequences for refusal to undergo initiation (e.g. inability to secure a spouse, shunning, exclusion from jural-political rights, etc.)?

15. Are there explicit consequences for heresy, blasphemy, impiety, etc.? Which ______

16. What persons or places have the power of sanctuary?

Do these protect against agents of formal jural authority or only against private foes?

17. Are there any concepts or terms which suggest being un-(name of society), e.g. Ka-hopi, un-American, etc.?__________

If yes, what are the consequences of its application to a person (e.g. execution, excommunication, ostracism, etc.)?

18. Are there rituals of rebellion? _________

In regard to which loci of authority? __________________________

19. Are there any types or sources of conflict in which it is explicitly clear that a person cannot count on the support of his parents or siblings?____________


1. Are there schools? _____

If yes:

At what age do boys ____ girls ____ begin attendance?

Are teachers kin of students ____ nonkin? _____

Are teachers male _____ female _____ both? _____

From which social strata in population are teachers drawn? _____

From which strata are students drawn? ____________

What is general nature of the curriculum (vocational, military, religious, etc.)?

To what extent are schools tied to formal initiation ceremonies (e.g. bush schools)?

What are consequences formal/informal consequences for not attending school?_________

What is maximum number of years a person can devote to formal schooling? _____

Are schools an indigenous institution _____ or where they introduced by conquering ____ or dominant outsiders? ______

Who sponsors schools (e.g. local community, kin group, central government, etc.)?

2. Are there any areas of competence or knowledge (e.g. religious lore, economic techniques, myths that are regularly taught to boys _______ Girls _____ By kinsmen other than parents (which) _____ By non-kinsmen? ________

3. Are there any bogey-men (demons, devils, etc.) with whom children are threatened For disobedience ______ (Nature of the bogeys)? __________

4. Does any kins-man have the right to discipline a child _______ or only certain Kinsmen (which)? _______

5. Does any member of the community (kin or non-kin) have the right to discipline a Child? ____________

6. Are there any extra-familial institutions (e.g. courts) that have the right (even theoretically) to enforce discipline and conformity in children? _______

7. Are there initiation ceremonies of boys ____ girls ____ both? ____

8. Are there puberty ceremonies for boys ___ girls _____ both ____


1. Is this society stratified into a systems of social classes (minimum consideration: differential degrees of control over mean of production, rights of dispossession by members of one status level over another of land or sea rights, consistent differential access to wealth, confinement of political offices to members of particular statuses, etc.)?

If yes:

How many status levels exist and what are they? _________________

Is class status ascribed __________ or achieved? _________

Is there a caste system _________ how many castes? ___________

What is the relationship between class and kin-group membership?

What is the relationship between class and occupation, e.g. (are high status persons freed from productive responsibilities)? ___________

Are village headmen drawn from a particular class ____ if yes, which? ________

Are status levels endogamous _____ required ____ preferred? _____

Are there different jural rights for different status levels (e.g. inequality before the law)? ________________

Is there an etiquette in inter-status relations (e.g. bowing, formal language, adjusting veils, etc.) _____ if yes, what occurs? _________

What is the punishment for lower-status persons who infringe on the rights of upper-status persons?

Are there life crisis rites for different statuses ____ if yes, describe? ___________

Are there special schools for different statuses _____ if yes, describe? __________

What means of production are controlled by different classes? _____________

If yes, how is control exercised (e.g. ownership of land, distribution of jobs, right timpose tapu on crops, etc.)? __________________________

What acts lead to dispossession from rights to land/sea by one status or another?

What forms of wealth typically accrue to different statuses?

Is the system of classes religiously re-enforced (e.g. by system of mana-tapu)?

Are classes residentially segregated _____ if yes, what is the pattern?

Are there irrigation works of system? _____ if yes:

Are they controlled by members of different classes? _____

If yes, how (e.g. organizing labor corvee, overseeing repairs, controlling calendrical flooding, selling rights to use water, etc.)?

Is there a standing military organization _____ if yes, is control in hands of particular classes _____ if yes, which classes?

Are there class insignia or dress? _____ if yes, describe ___________

What other features of the class system may exist?

2. If this is not a class-stratified society, which of the following sources of prestige serve as criteria for ranking? (SORT THEM NUMERICALLY INSTEAD OF MERELY CHECKING THEM)

Social influence _____

Reputation _____

Accumulated wealth _____

Military bravery ______

Religious abilities ______

Number of children _____

Generosity is distributing wealth ______

Knowledge of lore _____

Technical-specialized knowledge _____

Esoteric knowledge ______

Political status/office _____

Un-aggressiveness _____

Aggressiveness _____

Other (specify) ________

3. What are the material symbols of prestige (e.g. medals, houses, etc.)?

4. What are the emoluments of prestige (e.g. power, personal satisfaction, access to other desiderata, etc.)?

5. Are some occupations considered more prestigious than others? _____ if yes, which ____

6. Does slavery exist? ____if yes for war captives ___ debt __ crime ___ serfdom ____

Rights and privileges of slaves: can hold property ____ marry ____ contract for debt ___ purchase freedom ___ win freedom ____

Does rational ideology of culture claim that the society is completely egalitarian?


1. Are there any regularly and recurrently performed rituals when reenact the creation of the universe and the society (e.g. Navaho curing ceremony, Hopi Powamu, etc.)? _____

If yes, are they designed to maintain the universe and society in original form? ___

Are these rituals religious ____ or secular? ____

2. Controlling change: To oppose change To favor change

Appeals made to:


Other deities____________________________________________

Tradition ________________________________________________

Social charters (e.g. Magna Carta, constit.) _____________________

Immediate real pressures/demands (what/which) ________________

Other __________________________________________________

3. Introduction, acceptance, rejection of innovation, new idea, techniques, procedures etc., appear to be in the hands of (WHERE POSSIBLE DESCRIBE):

Polity as a whole _________________________________________

Shaman _________________________________________________

Chief ___________________________________________________

Council of elders _________________________________________

Lineage heads ___________________________________________

Clan heads ______________________________________________

Village headmen _________________________________________

Village council ___________________________________________

Religious functionaries ____________________________________

Paramount ruler __________________________________________

Segments of government (e.g. legislature, supreme court) __________

Quasi official branch of govt. (e.g. a political party) ______________

Broadly based portion of population (e.g. scientists, inventors, W. African Lorry Drivers, etc.)_____________________________________________

Legitimate elite (e.g. prophets, philosophers) ____________________

Alien society_____________________________________________

Other __________________________________________________

4. What are the lines of communication or announcement for innovations (e.g. informal interpersonal speeches by chiefs, from national bureaucracy to provincial representatives, edict, statute, mass media, etc.)?

5. In what sphere(s) of activity does change normally occur first (e.g. technology, kinship system, jural relations, political system, clothing, language, etc.)?

6. Briefly describe values related to change (good, bad, indifferent, work of devil, all change is faddist, etc.).