Chiefdoms and Their Analogues: Alternatives of Social Evolution at the Societal Level of Medium Cultural Complexity

Authors: Grinin, Leonid; Korotayev, Andrey
Journal: Social Evolution & History. Volume 10, Number 1 / March 2011


The general process of the growth of sociocultural complexity was multidimensional and multilinear. That is why the evolutionary phase of medium-complex societies (where the chiefdoms are most often observed) was represented by numerous types of societies.

The article is devoted to the analysis of chiefdom analogues, or various evolutionary alternatives to the chiefdom: poleis, autonomous towns and complex village communities, cast-clan systems, non-hierarchically organized territorial groups and federations of villages, certain types of tribal systems, and so on. All chiefdom analogues' forms can be subdivided into a few types: monosettlement analogues (with the majority of the population concentrated in a single central settlement); horizontally integrated polysettlement analogues; and corporate analogues. The notion of chiefdom analogues which we put forward will advance the theoretical analysis of the cultural-political variations among medium-complex societies where chiefdoms are bound to occupy one of the main positions.