Ideologies In Transition Essay, Research Paper
One would have to agree with the statement that the changes in ideology in the transition from Band to Chiefdom are a reflection of the changes in the infrastructure of the society. Using the course kit titled A Comparative and Evolutionary Approach by Peter Landstreet along with various notes from lectures and tutorials. The following essay will attempt to prove this statement true by illustrating the different changes in the infrastructure of each of the societal types and the resulting change in ideology.
The infrastructure of Band societies is based on hunting and gathering. Where as the men would do the hunting and the women would perform the gathering. And because this was an egalitarian society meaning that no one group had control over another, everything was shared equally and nothing was wasted. (Singh, Oct 17) This equal distribution of materials and food meant that no one would starve. A person did not have to worry if he or she was unable to produce any food in a given day because it was likely that someone else in the Band would have been successful and food would be shared. (Landstreet, p.94) Thus Band ideologies are based on having strong norms emphasizing sharing, egalitarianism, and personal relations revolving around kinship. This can be summarized into “liberty, fraternity, and equality”. (Landstreet, p. 121) They have a differentiated spirit world.
In the next stage of Tribal societies the infrastructure begins to change. Instead of hunting and gathering as their primary source of food. The livelihood of the Tribe was dependent on horticulture. (Singh, Oct 24) The reason behind this change was that crop cultivation produced greater food yields. This change also allowed the Tribe to settle in one area and they no longer had to be on the move. Due to this new development in the use of human labor to cultivate land it was now important for everyone to do his or her part in the production of food. Hence the ideology here begins to change a little in accordance with the change in lifestyle. Tribal ideology is still based on “liberty, fraternity, and equality” however there is now a separation or segmented distribution of units from top to bottom beginning with the “totality” down to the “family”. (Landstreet, p.149) Their spirit world reflects the hierarchial levels of the Tribal society.
The next stage of development is Chiefdom and the infrastructure here is based on surplus production or in other words they produce more than they consume. This was not the case with Band and Tribal societies. Chiefdom societies were strictly sedentary. This was possible because of there location. They lived on land that was fertile and easily cultivated and they also had an abundance of game nearby. (Landstreet, p.165) Their mode of subsistence was based on redistribution and specialization, which is what separates Chiefdom from Band and Tribal societies. From specialization there is division and Chiefdom ideology directly illustrates this point. Their religion reflects the social stratifications. By this I mean Human morality, monotheism, and hierarchy.
In conclusion it has been clearly shown that changes in infrastructure from Band to Chiefdom societies have lead to changes in ideology. The egalitarian lifestyle of the Band society is reflected in having a differentiated spirit world. Tribal societies have a segmented spirit world, which directly reflects their levels of separation. Finally we come to Chiefdom society with its specialized division of labor which is reflected in their ideology with morality being key and the belief in one god or leader.