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Politics & Power

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  1. Politics & Power

  2. Politics & Power • Politics is linked with power: both the power that people exert over each other, and the ways in which society wields power over people by imposing institutionalized constraints on their agency. • Constraints ranging from property taxes and traffic rules to torture and genocide

  3. Political Anthropology They must find out where and how the important decisions are made, who is affected by the decisions, what rules and norms govern political action, how authority is challenged and what possible sanctions the rulers of society dispose of. Anthropological study of politics is concerned with showing how political systems function and how people act or are prevented from acting within them, as well as indicating the relationship between ideology and social practice.

  4. Morality and law Bases of power Abuses of power Political Anthropology Who has it; who doesn’t Governments Political Anthropologists address the area of human behavior and thought related to power Degrees of power Social conflict and social control Political and religious power

  5. Power • “The ability to enforce one’s own will on others’ behavior” – Max Weber • In other words, the ability to make someone do something they would otherwise not have done. • According to Weber, people have power over each other

  6. Power – Authority - Influence • Weber distinguished between power, authority, and influence. • Influence is a ‘milder’ form of power presupposing implicit acceptance • Authority is taken for granted and needs no justification, while power can potentially be challenged and therefore must be defended.

  7. Power & Authority • POWER: ability to bring about results • power may be informal and based on force • coercive power versus persuasive power • Symbolic power based on positive expectations of those who agree to it • AUTHORITY is the socially recognized right to exert power • LEGITIMACY- the socially recognized right to hold, use, and allocate power

  8. Power is a resource, like other resources, it is unequally distributed

  9. Powerlessness Absence of the ability to exert power

  10. Politics The use of power to create public policy.

  11. Who Has the Power?

  12. Different Types of Political Organization • Related to  • subsistence strategy • population density and heterogeneity • degree of hierarchy and social stratification • presence of bounded territory • degree of formalization of rule

  13. Headman Headman / Big-man Chief King / Queen / President Types of Political Organizations Bands Tribes Chiefdoms States

  14. LEVELS OF SOCIETIES NON-CENTRALIZED CENTRALIZED BAND TRIBE CHIEFDOM STATE Political Anthropology:Centralized and Non-Centralized Societies According to Julian Steward, societies are either centralized or non-centralized: POWER IN THE HANDS OF FEW POWER IN THE HANDS OF MANY

  15. Bands and Tribes:Uncentralizedpolitical systems • associated with: • subsistence level economies such as foraging • small, homogeneous populations • little social stratification • relatively autonomous groups • often relatively mobile without strict territorial boundaries • formal leader or organization beyond kinship rare

  16. Foraging Bands The entire local community is the government. Decisions are achieved by public discussion.

  17. Non-Centralized Societies:The Band • Nomadic group of related households occupying one region (about 50 to 500 people) • Gather oninformalbasis to hunt and gather • Reciprocity-based economics • No permanent leader • Leader has no power, only authority and influence • Least complex form of political organization

  18. The Band: Examples • !Kung (southern Africa) • Headman coordinates band movements, chooses new campsites • Does not judge his people • Has no more possessions than anyone else • The Paiute (US) • Men and women together hunt small game, gather • Men sometimes hunt big game • Men and women serve as informal leaders, shamans

  19. Band Societies: Leadership • Decision-making is by consensus. • Leaders are older men and women. • Leaders cannot enforce their decisions; They can only persuade. • Sharing and generosity are important sources of respect.

  20. Band Societies: Social Order • Maintained by gossip, ridicule, and avoidance. • Violations of norms are sins. • Offenders may be controlled through ritual means such as public confessions. • Offender is defined as a patient rather than a criminal.

  21. Non-Centralized Societies:The Tribe • Group of independent communities occupying one region (about 200 – 2,000 people) • United by common language, culture, kin ties • Sometimes nomadic, sometimes sedentary, light farmers / herders • Leader (big man) holds prestige, not authority • Elders hold the true authority.

  22. Horticultural Tribes Each community consists of family lineages that govern themselves and a counsel of elders drawn from each family that sets policy for the community as a whole

  23. Big-Man Societies Big Man: A local entrepreneur who successfully mobilizes and manipulates wealth on behalf of his group in order to hold feasts and enhance his status and rank relative to other leaders in the region. He has no formal authority or power, nor does he necessarily have more wealth.

  24. The Tribe: Examples • The Nuer (Sudan) • Pastoralist culture • Political authority maintained by segmentary lineages. • Each lineage is equal to all others • Authority often based on age • Papua New Guinea tribes • Horticultural & pastoralist peoples, wealth measured in pigs • Big man's power transitory, prestige enhanced by redistribution (moka)

  25. Chiefdom & State:Centralized political systems • associated with: • intensive agricultural or industrialization • technology becomes more complicated • labor specialization increases • large, diverse population • less mobility • opportunity for control of resources appears • appearance of coercive force • male leaders more frequent • political authority is concentrated in a single individual (chiefdoms) or a body of individuals (the state)

  26. Centralized Societies:The Chiefdom • Regional polity with two or more groups organized under one chief (ascribed rule) (1,000s) • Wealthy chief / king heads a ranked hierarchy • Increase in population, complex tech, jobs, instability • May be basis of “civilization” • Often unstable

  27. Chiefdoms • Allied tribes and villages under one leader • More centralized and complex • Heritable systems of rank • Social stratification • Chiefship is an “office” • Achievement is a measure of success

  28. Historical Examples • Hawaii • Medieval Europe / Africa / Japan • Eastern Woodlands cultures (N. America) • Hopewell / Mississippian societies • Chesapeake-area chiefdoms • Southeast Asia (Angkor Wat)

  29. Modern Example: the Kpelle (Liberia) • Series of chiefs, each ruling over several subchiefs • Chiefs hear & settle local disputes, distribute medicines • Salaried by Liberian gov’t, given other perks • Kpelle wealth measured in wives, embroidered gowns, freedom from labor

  30. Centralized Societies:The State • Strong, centralized political system with clear, strong leader (10,000’s +) • Claims authority to maintain social order by force • Most centralized, unstable political system • Clear borders, hierarchy, jobs • Ex: any ancient empire, any modern country

  31. Characteristics of States • Define citizenship and rights • Maintain law and order • Maintain standing armies • Keep track of their citizens • Have the power to tax • Power to manipulate information • Hierarchical and patriarchal

  32. States Chiefdoms grade into states as the authority of the government expands over that of families until it monopolizes all political authority

  33. Ancient Ex: Sumer (Mesopotamia) • World’s first civilization was highly stratified state with: • large public works • strict legal code (Code of Hammurabi) • State religion • world’s first writing

  34. A Typical Hierarchy in a State Society: the Maya (Mesoamerica)

  35. Modern Example: USA – States and Reservations

  36. Band, Tribe, Chiefdom, State

  37. What Is a Nation? • Communities united as "one people" through common factors: • ancestry, history, society, institutions, ideology, language, territory, religion. • All bands, tribes, chiefdoms and states are nations • Today there are over 200 nation-states, encompassing over 5,000 nations (ethnic groups, autonomous peoples, tribes, etc.)

  38. Example: Map of the “Nations” of Europe

  39. Peaceful Conflict Resolution • Conflict resolution in small societies is often peaceful. • Avoidance • Community action • Negotiation / mediation • Ritual reconciliation / oaths • Larger societies have more codified ways to handle conflict.

  40. Violent Conflict Resolution • Violence is sometimes used when peaceful resolution is not possible. • More violent societies tend to have • warlike sports, violent games • malevolent magic • more crime, more severe punishment for crimes • feuding, family violence

  41. WAR Armed conflict between groups of people who constitute separate territorial teams or political communities • Some groups seldom, if ever, war while with others it is endemic • Interpersonal violence and armed conflict are a tendency of all societies when certain internal or external pressures arise

  42. WAR IS: • A significant factor in demographic and political change within the last 10,000 years • Attested to by a great deal of archaeological evidence worldwide • Not innate per se, but in historical terms it seems to be one of the universally recurring realities of human existence

  43. Warfare Among Hunter-gatherers • Depending on the circumstances, low-level conflict can and does occur between foragers • Yet hunter-gatherers seldom try to annihilate each other. Why? • The loss of 2 male individuals per generation in a band of 30 represents more than 10 percent of all adult male deaths • Small bands cannot sustain fatalities at these levels and survive. • Protection of women from violent death is even more critical from the biological standpoint. Why?

  44. Warfare Among Hunter-gatherers • Armed conflict between simple hunter-gatherers usually takes the form of personal feuds between individuals; typically older men who have long-standing conflicts. • Just as in other social animals, conflict between groups of hunter-gatherers is more frequent during periods of population pressure and environmental stress.

  45. Warfare Among Sedentary Village Societies • Warfare is much more common among sedentary populations than with foragers • The more people have invested in fixed elements in their environment the more likely they are to defend it. • Sedentary groups cannot resolve disputes by moving off to another location. • Example: Among the Yanomami almost 33% of all male deaths and 7% of female deaths were due to armed conflict.

  46. Why War: Conclusions • Band and village people go to war when they lack alternative solutions to conflicts related to procuring resources in response to population pressure and environmental depletion. • Chiefdoms and States go to war because it is the primary means by which the ruling elite solidifies control, gains resources, and acquires territory.

  47. Crime There are two categories of politically defined crimes. - malum per se (roughly equal to “immoral”) - malumprohibitum(other things that legislators regard as offensive)

  48. Thus, “criminals” include both those who violate laws and those that govern moral behavior • Persons who are criminals by virtue of violating non-moral norms that have been made illegal. - e.g., In Virginia it is illegal for a woman who weighs over 200 lbs to ride a horse while wearing shorts. • In other words, “criminals” are not merely “black hats” and crime rates are partly a result of what is defined as illegal. • Labeling Theory

  49. William Henry “Bill” Gates: 1977Traffic Violation

  50. Larry King, 1971