X hits on this document





39 / 46

advanced horticulturalists are different in that they serve to promote a system of true social stratification. Three main social classes – consisting roughly of chiefs, subchiefs, and commoners – are a common pattern.  These classes are distinguished by their differences in social rank, power, dress and ornamentation, patterns of consumption of luxury and other goods, direct involvement in economic production, availability of leisure time, and general styles of life.

Stratification systems of this type have been found among many of the intensive horticultural societies of sub-Saharan Africa as they existed in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Here the familiar three-class system of stratified life was frequently found (Lenski, 1966). The dominant class consisted of a small minority of powerful and privileged persons who lived off the economic surplus generated from below. An intermediate class of officials and specialists served the fancies of the dominant class and carried out some of the lesser functions of political rule. The lowest class consisted of the large majority of ordinary people who were charged with producing enough economic goods to support the other two classes.

Chiefs or kings in some of these societies were treated with great respect and were often exalted and deified. In Dahomey, for instance, extreme acts of deference were shown the king. Even his ministers of state were expected to grovel in the dust in his presence, all the while throwing dirt over their heads and bodies (Lenski, 1966). Also, “No one could appear in his presence with his shoulders covered, or wearing sandals, shoes, or hat. No one could sit on a stool in his presence; if they sat, they were obliged to sit on the ground” (Lenski, 1966:154). Dahomean kings also possessed great wealth, both in the form of property and wives. They were nominally regarded as the owners

Document info
Document views75
Page views75
Page last viewedMon Oct 24 17:06:32 UTC 2016