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

By Bernardo Bernardi

All societies are differentiated by way of age. yet in a few, this differentiation takes the shape of institutionalized, officially graded age periods, the individuals of which percentage an assigned 'structural' age, if no longer inevitably an identical physiological age. the character of formal age workforce platforms has develop into one of many vintage concerns in glossy social anthropology, even supposing formerly there was no accomplished explication of those advanced varieties of social association. during this publication, Bernardo Bernardi, one of many pioneers of the anthropological examine of age classification structures, presents a fashion of constructing experience of the variety of such structures through analysing cross-culturally their universal positive factors and the trend in their alterations, and exhibiting that they serve a common goal for the association of society and for the distribution and rotation of energy.

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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. . The conception of a chief as a functionary essential to the welfare of the tribe had not become familiar to the people, and therefore the office of such an authority formed no part of the tribal organization. . The lack of authority vested in individuals may lead us to the assumption that the state of society before us is wholly disorganized and uncontrolled, yet it is not entirely so, though its actual foundation is difficult to discover, and it is possibly inadequate to provide for more advanced conditions.

Roles and offices are actually defined within the age class system and are distributed according to recruitment into a class and its promotion in the scale of grades. It should be evident that whatever roles and offices exist in the age class system should be understood with reference to the peculiar structure of the same system. This observation applies also to the idea of power connected with roles and offices, as we shall see in the following section. Power in the age class system In trying to define the idea of power in the age class system, it is helpful to first ask: Is power within such a system actually identified with political power?

A class that claims promotion to the next grade will not stay put and allow itself to be delayed and deprived of its right to achieve the effective power that inheres in the grade to which the class is entitled. The opposition that may, thus, occur between two succeeding classes is one of the expressions that tensions and conflicts may take, but these very tensions and conflicts serve as an effective check against any possible abuse of the position held by leaders and their supporters. It should also be added that the leaders and officers of a class, however exalted their position may be, as in the case of the Abba Gada, are always considered peers by their age mates.

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