Urbanization and Stratification

Fri, 16 Dec 1994 10:59:57 CST

ethnographic and archaeological evidence argue that it is not. Among
autonomous communities, whether bands or villages, there is very little
stratification: a little in prestige, less in power, and even less in
wealth. Yet by the time several villages are under permanent control by
a hereditary chief, as among the Cherokee or Trobriand Islanders,
inequality of prestige, power, and wealth all seem to have increased
appreciably, and they have done so quite in the absence of anything we
would usually term "urbanization." Similarly, archaeological evidence of
stratification, such as wealth-differentiated burials and "modestly
monumental architecture" (to coin a phrase), often are found in the
absence of large, dense concentrations of people. Therefore unless we
want to extend the term "urbanization" to encompass the emergence of
small, semi-sedentary villages, we must reject urbanization as a prime
mover of stratification, on chronological grounds alone. --Bob Graber