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CHIEFDOM A chiefdom is a type of complex society of varying degrees of centralization that is led by an individual known as a chief. In anthropological theory, one model of human social development rooted in ideas of cultural evolution describes a chiefdom as a form of social organization more complex than a tribe or a band society, and less complex than a state or a civilization. The most succinct (but still working) definition of a chiefdom in anthropology belongs to Robert L. Carneiro: "An autonomous political unit comprising a number of villages or communities under the permanent control of a paramount chief" (Carneiro 1981: 45). Chiefdoms are characterized by pervasive inequality of people and centralization of authority. At least two inherited social classes (elite and commoner) are present (Ancient hawaiian chiefdoms had as many as four social classes), although social class can often be changed by extraordinary behavior during an individual's life. A single lineage/family of the elite class will be the ruling elite of the chiefdom, with the greatest influence, power, and prestige. Kinship is typically an organizing principle, while marriage, age, and gender can affect one's social status and role. A single simple chiefdom is generally composed of a central community surrounded by or near a number of smaller subsidiary communities. All of these communities recognize the authority of a single kin group or individual with hereditary centralized power, dwelling in the primary community. Each community will have its own leaders, which are usually in a tributary and/or subservient relationship with the ruling elite of the primary community.
A complex chiefdom is a group of simple chiefdoms controlled by a single paramount center, and ruled by a paramount chief. Complex chiefdoms have two or even three tiers of political hierarchy. Nobles are clearly…...

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