X hits on this document





30 / 46

this to be the proper result. As they said, “The giver of the feast takes the bones and the stale cakes; the meat and the fat go to others” (M. Harris, 1974, 1977).

Further progress toward village bigmanship requires that there be more and bigger feasts. If a man can continue to do this, he is eventually likely to become the village big man. If he does succeed, however, he can never rest on his laurels. As soon as the size of his gardens and pig herds begins to shrink, he subsides into insignificance. He is always faced with competitors who are waiting to take his place should he be unable to maintain a sufficiently intense level of economic productivity.

Marvin Harris (1974, 1977) points out that the big man is an economic intensifier.  His actions lead to an increase in the level of production beyond what it would otherwise be.  As such, it is easy to see why big men are not found among hunter-gatherers. Big men in hunter-gatherer societies would be economically maladaptive, for they would exploit the resources of nature beyond their natural recovery points and thus destroy the ecological and economic foundation of hunter-gatherer society. Thus, the very personalities that may be highly beneficial for many horticultural societies would produce disastrous consequences for hunter-gatherers.

Social Inequalities and Politics

Like hunter-gatherers, simple horticulturalists lack hereditary class divisions and thus true social stratification.  However, as should be clear from the preceding discussion, status-seeking behavior is carried considerably further in simple horticultural societies.  They are examples of what Morton Fried (1967) has termed rank societies. As Fried defines it, “A rank society is one in which positions of valued status are somehow limited

Document info
Document views179
Page views179
Page last viewedSun Jan 22 16:29:47 UTC 2017