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Plenary Talk International Conference on Complex Systems 2002 Nashua, New Hampshire June 5 - 11.

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Presentation on theme: "Plenary Talk International Conference on Complex Systems 2002 Nashua, New Hampshire June 5 - 11."— Presentation transcript:

1 Plenary Talk International Conference on Complex Systems 2002 Nashua, New Hampshire June

2 The Role of Culture in the Emergence of Complex Societies Dwight W. Read Department of Anthropology UCLA

3 Introduction Culture in explanatory arguments Societies from simple to complex From group to band organization via kinship Kinship as a cultural construct Modeling of a kinship construct Instantiation: Symbols to people Implications for two views of human behavior

4 In linking empirically defined relationships with mathematically defined relationships…[and] the symbolic with the empirical domain…a number of deep issues…arise…. These issues relate, in particular, to the ability of human systems to change and modify themselves according to goals which change through time, on the one hand, and the common assumption of relative stability of the structure of …[theoretical] models used to express formal properties of systems, on the other hand…. A major challenge facing effective mathematical modeling of … human systems … is to develop models that can take into account this capacity for self-modification according to internally constructed and defined goals. (Read 1990, p. 13, emphasis added) Inadequacy of Classical Mathematical Modeling: Problem of Self-Modification

5 Explanatory Paradigm Physical Sciences

6 Explanatory Paradigm Biological Sciences

7 Explanatory Paradigm Cultural Framework

8 Three Paradigms for Modeling Evolution of Complex Societies (1) Evolution of a Society as a Totality Band Level Societies Tribal Level Societies Chieftain Level Societies State Level Societies White (1949), Steward (1955), Fried (1967), Service (1962)

9 Three Paradigms for Modeling Evolution of Complex Societies (contd) (2) Evolution of the Internal Structure of a Society Viewed as a Hierarchical Control/Information Processing System "… the most striking differences between states and simpler societies lie in the realm of decision -making and its hierarchical organization …" (Flannery 1972, p. 412 )

10 Three Paradigms for Modeling Evolution of Complex Societies (contd) (3) Role of Agent and Agency in Evolution of Societies … the formal, functional, and dynamic properties of the state are outcomes of the often conflictive interaction of social actors with separate agendas, both within and outside the official structure of the decision-making institution (Blanton 1998, p. 140) The organizational forms of Mesopotamian complex societies emerged through the dynamic interaction of partly competing, partly cooperating groups or institutional spheres and different levels of social inclusiveness (Stein 1994, p.12 )

11 Sequence of Societies (1) Solitary society: I = (2) Group consisting of several individuals: G = (3) Band society/community composed of several groups: B = (4) Tribal society/simple chiefdoms composed of several B's: T = and (5) Complex chieftains composed of several T's: C =, where S G, S B, S T, S C, stand for the internal organization of the units making up a society at a particular level in the sequence.

12 Groups of Individuals

13 Band society

14 Tribal Society (groups)

15 Tribal Society (lineages)

16 Tribal Society (political office)

17 Tribal Society (moieties)

18 Tribal Society (ritual)

19 Chiefdom (Simple)

20 Chiefdom (Complex)

21 State Structure (top down structure)

22 Shift from Simple to Complex Society

23 Simple Society

24 Complex Society

25 Shift from Simple to Complex Society

26 Kinship Identification and Calculation Gao [a Nyae Nyae !Kung] had never been to Khadum [to the north of the Nyae Nyae region] before. The !Kung who lived there at once called him ju dole [dole: bad, worthless, potentially harmful]. He was in haste to say that he had heard that the father of one of the people at Khadum had the same name as his father and that another had a brother named Gao. `Oh, said the Khadum people in effect, `so you are Gaos !gun!a.... (Marshall 1976:242) [!gun!a -- kin term for persons in a name giver-name receiver relationship]

27 Gaos Calculation Gao Gaos father Unidentified person A As father Unidentified person B Bs brothers name is Gao (same name) !gun!a kin relationship

28 Complexity of Genealogy compared to Simplification Achieved through a Kinship Terminology Structure Genealogical Tracing Term Number of paths Sibling2 1st Cousin8 2nd Cousin32 3rd Cousin128

29 Culture as a Constructed Reality

30 Culture as a Conceptual Structure

31 Symbolic Structure (model)

32 Symbolic Structure (graph)

33 Comparison of Two Kinship Terminologies

34 Gaos Calculation (model) Gao Gaos father Unidentified person A As father Unidentified person B Bs brothers name is Gao (same name) !gun!a kin relationship Ego (Gao) C (Gao) B tsi (brother)!gun!a ??= tun

35 Calculation with Kin Terms

36 Definition: Kin Term Product Let K and L be kin terms in a given kinship terminology, T. Let ego, alter 1 and alter 2 refer to three arbitrary persons each of whose cultural repertoire includes the kinship terminology, T. The kin term product of K and L, denoted K o L, is a kin term, M, if any, that ego may (properly) use to refer to alter 2 when ego (properly) uses the kin term L to refer to alter 1 and alter 2 (properly) uses the kin term K to refer to alter 2.

37 Kin Term Map for the American Kinship Terminology

38 Kin Term Map for the Shipibo Terminology Shipibo: Horticultural group in Peru

39 Simplification of Kin Term Map Removal of affines, structural equivalence

40 Construct a Semigroup Model

41 Isomorphism Between Reduced Kin Term Map and Generated Structure Isomorphism

42 Isomorphism Between AKT and Generated Structure

43 Predicted Kin Term Definitions STEP 1: Instantiation: I --> {ego} P --> {f, m} C --> {s, d} S --> {h, w} Where: f = genealogical father m = genealogical mother s = genealogical son d = genealogical daughter h = husband w = wife STEP 2: Construct set products corresponding to symbol products: e.g. CP = {f, m}{s,d} = {fs, fd, ms, md} = {b, z] RESULT: Predicted genealogical diagram

44 Explanatory Paradigm Cultural Framework

45 Instantiation of Abstract Symbols

46 Integration of Material and Ideational Levels

47 Dual Mental Processing System Individual

48 Contention Resolved? Sociologist James March (1999) There are two great contending visions of how human action is to be interpreted. The first vision sees action as driven by a logic of consequences in which alternatives are assessed in terms of two guesses a guess about the probable future consequences of action and a guess about the probable future feelings an actor will have about those consequences when they occur. The second vision sees action as driven by a logic of appropriateness in which actors seek to fulfill identities by matching actions to situations in ways that are appropriate for an identity that the actor accepts" (emphasis added). (Marschak Colloquium, UCLA)


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