Publication date (electronic): 30 September 2007
Approaching “complexity” in anthropology and complexity studies: The principles of socio-political organization and the prospects for bridging the interdisciplinary gap*
Complexity is understood differently in anthropology and the complexity studies. I discuss the two principles of socio-political organization, particularly, the phenomenon of homoarchy as a counterpart to that of heterarchy. Respectively to heterarchy—“... the relation of elements to one another when they are unranked or when they possess the potential for being ranked in a number of different ways,” homoarchy is “the relation of elements to one another when they are rigidly ranked one way only, and thus possess no (or limited) potential for being unranked or ranked in another or a number of different ways at least without cardinal reshaping of the whole socio-political order.” For anthropology, it is wrong to postulate that either heterarchy or homoarchy presupposes a higher level of complexity, while for the complexity students the heterarchic model is more complex than homoarchic: It is not less sustained but has a higher degree of non-equilibrium.
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