chapter  22
38 Pages

The development of rank societies

WithStephen J. Shennan

The idea of the ‘development of rank societies’ is a problematical and ambiguous one, which the position of this chapter in the Encyclopedia highlights: the two previous chapters are defined in terms of types of subsistence economy, while the subsequent one is concerned with a specific form of socio-political organization, the state, which only occurred in the context of certain productive agricultural economies. Rank societies, in so far as the term is meaningful (see below), can be and have been argued to exist in the context of hunter-gatherer economies, of early agriculturalists, and of societies with agricultural modes of existence which lasted for thousands of years.