28 October 2013

States and Chiefdoms

We are going to compare and contrast chiefdoms and states. Firstly, we are going to focus on their differences.

Looking at their political and economical systems we discovered that in chiefdoms the main characteristic are kindship relations: marriage, descent, age, generation and gender. These provoked things like some women have more power than men. Furthermore,
we can see this in their social relationships as it is difficult to draw a line between elites and common people.

In contrast, states have a different organization as they don't live in kinship relations but in a system of non relatives in which the social statues depends on the government.  In fact, there is a much firmer line between elites and masses, creating social strata (groups that contrast in regard to social status and access to strategic resources) divides in superordinate(privileged groups) and subordinate (underprivileged group): commoners married commoners and elites married elites(stratum endogamy).

The stratification signified the transition from chiefdom to state.
Moreover, on one hand, chiefdoms do the chiefly redistribution, in other words, they distribute their wealth among the society. The people offered their goods to the chief, and he made the products available to the whole society through a feast. Otherwise,  in states, the superordinate class keeps mostly all the wealth without making it available to the society.

Finally, states tend to have a higher population compared to chiefdoms. Thanks to this there are subsystems with specialized functions (population control, judiciary, enforcement and fiscal) which chiefdoms do not have.

Chiefdoms and states also have some similarities which are as follows.

Firstly, both chiefdoms and states regulate their economy with production, distribution and consumption. Their economies are based on intensive cultivation and administration of regional trade and exchange. This shows that they have the same fiscal system.
FInally, they both have  a differential access to resources, in other words, the privileged class has more access to power prestige and wealth.

In conclusion, we can see that chiefdoms is a necessary step to change the system to a state. This is why there are some similarities but there are mostly differences as we can see that states are a more evolved and have a better way of life.


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