Political complexity

By Levi Clancy for Student Reader on
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Dr. Elman Service defined in 1962 the following levels of political complexity:

ComplexityDescription

Band

aka hunter-gatherers.

Tribe

Hypothetically, a new tribe could develop when an individual took his family beyond the tribal area. Presumably, tribal names were derived from an ancestor deemed seminal to the tribe's formation. For example, Israelites deemed Israel (aka Jacob) crucial to their origins.

Chiefdom

States

Characterized by a unified ideology, aka kingdoms or empires. Early State Modules (ESMs) presume that territory can only be ruled as well as it can be communicated with, and that pre-modern transportation was on foot.

Empire

An empire is a super-state that unifies a heterogeneous population under a common ideology.

Key terms

TermDescription

Balkanization

Breaking up of a region into smaller territories, such as Czechoslovakia → Czech and Slovak.

Urbanization

Defined by: dramatic increase in population; fortifications; public buildings; and presence of a specialized bureaucracy.

Middle ground

A region where disparate people and cultures coexist.

Studies

Brinkley. Unfinished Nation.