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Anthropology And The State

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            In the earlier years, belonging to our ancestors, there seems to be a semblance of a state but this state is not the state that we know now. In this aspect, it would seem that the beginnings of a state came from the ancestral groups that had roamed free on Earth. It could be seen that the beginnings of the term state could be found through tribal societies. These tribes may be primitive in its nature but the structures of the state could be there. Before entering into the realm of the state, one should remember that this aspect of anthropology could be categorized in the sociocultural aspect of anthropology. It was said that this area of anthropology is dedicated to certain rules as a human being part in society (Staeck).

Going back, what then is a state? It was said that a state is “a culture that has a formal political organization with a central bureaucracy with the authority to employ legalized force (Smith).” Although the early tribes are not what this definition is really like but a certain pattern could already be seen. In a state, the recognized authority is the leaders that were selected by the citizens. This claim would then depend on the governmental system of a state. Take for example a democratic country, the leader or president may be the head of the state but the power still remains in the people of the state. This is the general idea of where the authority, pertaining to the power, really lies. A state system then would naturally depend on the type of governance that a country/place would adhere to. It could be inferred then that there could be different systems of the state. The function of the state system of the government could be seen then as a way to have some certain protection for the people. Being a part of a state would mean that an individual has engaged in a certain social contract. This contract then involves a special participation in the affairs of the state.

It would then be seen that the state is constituted of the people belonging to it. Authority in this state then could be seen in two things: first it depends in the governmental system that a country and lastly it depends on where the power really lies. The function of these systems is to protect those belonging to the state.


Smith, Court. “Definitions of Anthropological Terms”. Anthropological Resources.  (June 23, 2007). August 14 2007. <http://oregonstate.edu/instruct/anth370/gloss.html#S>. 

Staeck, J.P. “Back to the Earth: An Introduction to Archaeology”.  2001. August 14 2007. <http://www.cod.edu/dept/anthro/cultural%20anthropology%20definition.htm>.

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