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Plenary Talk

International Conference on Complex Systems 2002


Nashua, New Hampshire
June 5 - 11
The Role of Culture in the
Emergence of Complex
Societies

Dwight W. Read
Department of Anthropology
UCLA
dread@anthro.ucla.edu
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
Inadequacy of Classical Mathematical Modeling:
Problem of Self-Modification

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)
Explanatory Paradigm
Physical Sciences

IDEATIONAL LEVEL

Hypothesized Theory Predicted Model T


Process Pattern
Match =
Explanation

For m and Model D


"Natural units" + Structuring Processes
Patterned
Phenom ena

PHENOMENOLOGICAL LEVEL
Explanatory Paradigm
Biological Sciences
IDEATIONAL LEVEL

Evolutionary Fixation of
Natural Selection Fitness Stable Evolutionary
Maximization Strategies Stable
Strategies

Hypothesized Theory Predicted


Process Model T
Pattern
Match =
Explanation
Form and
"Natural units" + Structuring Processes Patterned Model D
Phenom ena
Differential
Reproductive Trait Frequency
Success Frequency Distribtution
Reproduction of Traits
with m odification Competition

PHENOMENOLOGICAL LEVEL
Explanatory Paradigm
Cultural Framework
IDEATIONAL LEVEL

Identification Dravidian Terminology Symbolic Generative Algebraic


of Kin Structures Structure Model

Group Structure:
2 element group
<{I, X}, o>
Identification II = I, IX = X
of Bride and XI = X, XX = I Bipartite
Cross Cousin Marriage Sidedness
Groom Instantiation: network
I = parallel Marriage structure
X = cross Marriage
Predicted
Theory Pattern Model T

Match =
Explanation

Form and Model D


"Natural units" Patterned
Phenom ena p-graph
marriages
representation
of marriages

kinship kin term


terminology map
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)


Three Paradigms for Modeling Evolution of
Complex Societies (cont’d)

(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 )
Three Paradigms for Modeling Evolution of
Complex Societies (cont’d)

(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 )


Sequence of Societies
(1) Solitary society: I = <{single individual}>

(2) Group consisting of several individuals: G = <{Ii: 1 < i < m}, SG>

(3) Band society/community composed of several groups: B = <{Gi: 1 < i < n}, SB>

(4) Tribal society/simple chiefdoms composed of several B's: T = <{Bi: 1 < i < p}, ST>
and

(5) Complex chieftains composed of several T's: C = <{Ti: 1 < i < q},SC>,
where SG, SB, ST, SC, stand for the internal organization of the units making up a society
at a particular level in the sequence.
Groups of Individuals
Band society
Tribal Society (groups)
Tribal Society (lineages)
Tribal Society (political office)
Tribal Society (moieties)
Tribal Society (ritual)
Chiefdom (Simple)
Chiefdom (Complex)
State Structure
(top down structure)
Shift from Simple to Complex
Society
Simple Society
Complex Society
Shift from Simple to Complex
Society
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 Gao’s !gun!a . . ..
(Marshall 1976:242)
[!gun!a -- kin term for persons in a name giver-name receiver relationship]
Gao’s Calculation

(same name)
Gao’s father A’s father

Unidentified B’s brother’s


person B name is Gao Gao Unidentified
person A

!gun!a
kin relationship
Complexity of Genealogy compared to
Simplification Achieved through a Kinship
Terminology Structure

Genealogical Tracing
Term Number
of paths

Sibling 2
1st Cousin 8
2nd Cousin 32
3rd Cousin 128
Culture as a Constructed
Reality
Culture as a Conceptual
Structure
Symbolic Structure
(model)
Symbolic Structure
(graph)
Comparison of Two Kinship
Terminologies
Am erican/ English Shipibo
Ter m s Ter m s

GreatGrandm other yoshan shoko


GreatGrandfather papaisi shoko
GreatGrandparent

Grandm other GreatAunt yoshan


Grandfather GreatUncle papaisi
Grandparent
nachi (m ale speaker)
Aunt
huata (fem ale speaker)
Uncle epa (m ale speaker)
koka(fem ale speaker)
Parent
Mother tita
Father papa

Self ea

Brother huetsa (m ale speaker), pui (fem ale speaker)


Cousin
Sister pui (m ale speaker), huetsa (fem ale speaker)
Son
Daughter
Child bake

Nephew chio (m s) nosha (m s) pia (fs) ini (fs)


Niece
Grandson Grandnephew
Granddaughter Grandniece
Grandchild baba

Approxim ate
Correpondance:
Gao’s Calculation (model)
(same name)
Gao’s father A’s father

Unidentified B’s brother’s


person B name is Gao Gao Unidentified
person A

!gun!a
kin relationship

C (Gao)
!gun!a tsi (“brother”)

Ego B
(Gao) ?? = tun
Calculation with Kin Terms
Kin Ter m Pr odu ct

Mother
alter1 alter2

Father
?

ego

Mother of Father = Grandm other


Definition: Kin Term Product
Let K and L be kin terms in a given kinship terminology, T.
Let ego, alter1 and alter2 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 alter2
when ego (properly) uses the kin term L to refer to alter1 and
alter2 (properly) uses the kin term K to refer to alter2.
Kin Term Map for the
American Kinship Terminology
Kin Term Map for the Shipibo
Terminology
papaisi shoko yoshan shoko

papaisi yoshan

epa nachi papa tita koka huata

huetsa pui-f ea pui huetsa-f

nosha chio bake pia ini

Arrow Kin Ter m


papa
baba tita
bake (f)
bake (m)

Shipibo: Horticultural group in Peru


Simplification of Kin Term Map
Removal of affines, structural equivalence
Construct a Semigroup Model
Sym bol set: {P, C, I}

Binar y operation: o

Identity Elem ent: I

Structural Equation: P o C = I

Generate a Structure:

Construct all possible products of the sym bols,


reduce sym bol products using the structural
equation and the fact that I is an identiy elem ent
Isomorphism Between Reduced Kin
Term Map and Generated Structure

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

Identification Dravidian Terminology Symbolic Generative Algebraic


of Kin Structures Structure Model

Group Structure:
2 element group
<{I, X}, o>
Identification II = I, IX = X
of Bride and XI = X, XX = I Bipartite
Cross Cousin Marriage Sidedness
Groom Instantiation: network
I = parallel Marriage structure
X = cross Marriage
Predicted
Theory Pattern Model T

Match =
Explanation

Form and Model D


"Natural units" Patterned
Phenom ena
kinship kin term
terminology map

marriages p-graph
representation
of marriages
Instantiation of Abstract
Symbols
Integration of Material and
Ideational Levels
Dual Mental Processing
System

Individual
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)