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Chapter 12- The Organization of Political Life


a small forging group with flexible composition that migrates seasonally

simple bands

autonomous or independent political units, often consisting of little more than an extended family, with informal leadership

composite bands

autonomous political units consisting of several extended families that live together for most if not all of the year

big men

political leaders who do not occupy formal offices and whose leadership is based on influence, not authority


the ability to convince people they should act as you suggest


the recognized right of an individual to command another to act in a particular way; legitimate power


an autonomous political unit encompassing a number of distinct, geographically dispersed communities held together by sodalities


formal institutions that cut across communities and serve to unite geographically scattered groups


centralized political systems with authority vested i formal, usually hereditary, offices or titles


a centralized, multilevel political unit characterized by the presence of a bureaucracy that acts on behalf of the ruling elite

social control

mechanisms by which behavior is constrained and directed into acceptable channels, thus maintaining conformity


a kind of social control characterized by the presence of authority, intention of universal application, obligation and sanction

self-help legal systems

informal legal systems in societies without centralized political systems, in which authorities who settle disputes are defined by the circumstances of the case


a method of dispute settlement in self-help legal systems involving multiple but balanced killings between members of two or more kin groups

court legal systems

systems in which authority for settling disputes and punishing crimes is formally vested in a single individual or group

incipient courts

court systems in which judicial authorities meet in private to discuss issues and determine solutions, evidence is not formally collected, parties involved are not formally consulted

courts of mediation

court systems in which the judges attempt to reach compromise solutions, based on the cultural norms and values of the parties involved, that will restore social cohesion

courts of regulation

court systems that use codified laws, with formally prescribed rights, duties, and sanctions

reasonable-person model

a model used in legal reasoning that basically asks how a reasonable individual should have acted under these circumstances

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