Age Class Systems: Social Institutions and Polities Based on by Bernardo Bernardi

By Bernardo Bernardi

All societies are differentiated through age. yet in a few, this differentiation takes the shape of institutionalized, officially graded age periods, the contributors of which percentage an assigned 'structural' age, if no longer unavoidably a similar physiological age. the character of formal age crew structures has develop into one of many vintage matters in smooth social anthropology, even supposing beforehand there was no accomplished explication of those complicated sorts of social association. during this e-book, Bernardo Bernardi, one of many pioneers of the anthropological research of age category structures, offers a fashion of creating experience of the range of such structures by way of analysing cross-culturally their universal positive aspects and the trend in their changes, and exhibiting that they serve a normal function for the association of society and for the distribution and rotation of energy.

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The lack of leaders was viewed, conceptually, as a lack of civility; leaders were created and imposed administratively, selected by the government. It is interesting to follow the origins of these solutions in the historical documents dating back to the early days of the colonies. An apt example is provided by the remarks of C. Dundas regarding the Bantu-Hamites of Kenya, written in the second decade of this century: After the most careful enquiry and consideration of what is still in evidence, I feel convinced that the tribes had no head or leaders who could be dignified with the name of chief.

Political activity takes place at the level of tribe, clan, lineage, and so forth. The real meaning of these units is frequently left undefined, but in spite of their semantic relativity, the multiplicity of such levels is to be considered essential, not exceptional, in connection with stateless societies. The second trait, ritual superintegration, emphasizes the communal aspects of rituals, when people of different social units join together for the same purpose and "the community emerges," as Fortes states of the Tallensi (Fortes and Evans-Pritchard 1940: 263).

Yet Gulliver's proposed systematization was not taken up by other scholars; it was not subsequently applied empirically, nor did it give rise to any comparative discussion. Knowledge of the Nilo-Hamitic peoples, who have constituted the classic case of East African age class systems, was further enriched by the research of DysonHudson (1963) on the Karimojong of Uganda, a people from the same general ethnic group as the Jie. Dyson-Hudson makes clear the multiple functions of the Karimojong age class system.

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