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Q: Social structures of primitive mankind ( No Answer,   0 Comments )
Subject: Social structures of primitive mankind
Category: Relationships and Society > Cultures
Asked by: alphamare-ga
List Price: $40.00
Posted: 26 Nov 2005 19:46 PST
Expires: 26 Dec 2005 19:46 PST
Question ID: 597942
I'm interested to know what is known, or believed, about the social
structures of primitive man. Specifically, was it a "pack" system
similar to a wolf pack with a dominant "alpha" pair? References to
Neanderthal and Cro-Magnon if there are any would be good. And
references to the social structures of more modern yet "primitive"
societies that had a tribe/clan/small group system. I am especially
interested in gathering material about primitive societies that did/do
have a system similar to a wolf pack with an alpha pair hierarchy.

Request for Question Clarification by pafalafa-ga on 28 Nov 2005 19:19 PST
Jared Diamond has an extensive discussion in his book, Guns, Germs and
Steel, of the 'evolution' of primitive social structures.  Humans went
through a sequence from bands, to tribes, to cheifdoms, and eventually
to states.  At one stage, they are dominated by the "big man" means of
social organization.

You can see a summary of it here:

Have a look, especially, at Chapter 14.

Is that the sort of thing you're looking for?


Request for Question Clarification by hedgie-ga on 28 Nov 2005 19:57 PST
Diamond has even more detailed description of early societies in his
previous book: Third Chimpanzee

see book reference in

Clarification of Question by alphamare-ga on 28 Nov 2005 20:45 PST
It seems that Diamond refers to some of the more modern "primitive"
groups that have been fairly easy to observe in the last century or
so. Which is great, but what do we know or suspect about prehistoric
man? Maybe what I'm looking for doesn't exist - maybe there never have
been any human groups that had a dominant "alpha" pair. So, while I
think Diamond's info is interesting, what I'm really digging for is
evidence, or reasonable suspicion, of the alpha pair system. Thanks!

Request for Question Clarification by hedgie-ga on 29 Nov 2005 01:02 PST
Dear alpha

"in the last century or so" ?

 It may be useful if you look at the book before you decide
  ehat it 'seems to be about'.

I am passing on this question.

Clarification of Question by alphamare-ga on 29 Nov 2005 06:25 PST
Dear hedgie,

I don't have the book, I'm only looking at the links that were sent.
From the examples I could see in those references, it looks like he's
talking about bands, tribes, etc that have been observed and recorded
since *whenever* (doesn't say there)and since anthropology has only
been around for *so* long, I'm guessing that's where he's drawing his
information from. That's why I said "it seems that"........because I
can only see the info that was sent.
I'm not able to buy every book that "may" have what I'm looking for
and I'm 120 mile drive to the nearest library of any size (town of
30,000). Since there is currently 2 ft of snow on the ground and the
temperature is just below zero (F), I'm doing as much of this as I can
via the internet. My local library (only a 50 mile drive) can order
books for me and I will be ordering both of the Diamond books that
were recommended. What I was getting at was that from the links sent,
it didn't look like it was exactly what I was looking for.
You could pass on the question without being snippy and rude.

Request for Question Clarification by pafalafa-ga on 29 Nov 2005 07:14 PST

I'm sure hedgie-ga's remarks weren't intended to be rude, but
sometimes words just come differently in text then they sound in our

As for Diamond, I'm familiar with his works, which cover not just the
past century or so, but the entire span of human history.

While it's true that he gets much of his insights on primitive
cultures from observations of modern-day tribes, he is also steeped in
the literature of history, anthropology, archaeology, paleontology,
and any other studies that can shed light on how our distant ancestors
conducted themselves.

He does directly address what he calls the "Big Man" cultures, with
one honcho clearly taking the lead in the group.  Beyond that, I don't
recall anything else from his works that directly speaks to "alpha
male" leadership, or similar concepts.

I'll let you know if anything else turns up.

Enjoy (?) the snow...


Clarification of Question by alphamare-ga on 29 Nov 2005 07:27 PST
Thank you very much pafalafa. I'll let you know if that answers my
question. Keep in mind that I'm more interested in the alpha pair as
I'm looking more for the role of the alpha female than the alpha male.

Request for Question Clarification by pafalafa-ga on 29 Nov 2005 07:32 PST
OK.  The Diamond works are quite interesting in their own right, and
worht a look, but I don't think you'll find much there about the
alpha-pair, per se.

I'll keep looking....


Clarification of Question by alphamare-ga on 29 Nov 2005 08:47 PST
Thanks much!

Request for Question Clarification by pafalafa-ga on 29 Nov 2005 15:26 PST
One more thing.  My wife is a fan of this book:
The Descent of Woman
by Elaine Morgan

which presents an alternative to the mainstream anthropology view as
to how human societies came into being in the very early stages of our
history, and the role that women played in the emergence of societies.

Doesn't go into alpha pairs, as far as I know, but again, a
potentially interesting resource for exploring whre we came from and
how we got here.

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