CRC 1266 - Scales of Transformation

So-called pre-state societies are characterised by marked internal occupational differentiation, centralised settlement systems, and inheritable social status as part of elaborated hierarchical social organisation.

Following Max Weber’s definition, we expect territoriality and a monopoly on the legitimate use of force. As in state societies, social interaction and economy are regulated and organised; a task achieved by formalised, de-personalised institutions, rather than by virtue of individual persons or their actions. Whereas state societies generally use written accounts, pre-state societies are those societies who might have most or even all properties of states, but lack writing, which makes it impossible to prove the existence of all these properties. Pre-state and state societies thus show very different potentials for changes, and they also have different properties for coping with transformation. Additionally, with the presence of written accounts we can partly add an emic perspective to approaches towards other social formations.

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