Bunun - Sociopolitical Organization

Social and Political Organization. The settlement was traditionally an important and autonomous sociopolitical unit. Beyond the settlement, there were only temporary alliances among settlements for defense against their common enemy. The domestic unit was the basic social unit within the settlement, and there was no formal intermediate institution connecting the two levels. There were two formal sociopolitical offices through which some people could take charge of the social order: the lisigadan lus-an and the lavian. The lisigadan lus-an was in charge of the social order within the settlement; the lavian dealt with relations with other Bunun settlements and other tribes. Both offices could be attained through the practical achievements of an individual, and thus were not ascribed. Still, the members of a settlement's dominant clan had a better chance of obtaining such offices. The Bunun lacked a formal process for denominating these offices. Succession was earned through successful practice as confirmed by settlement consensus. Differences within a settlement about who would be a more capable leader usually resulted in the Splitting of the settlement. Since the end of World War II, however, the traditional political system has been replaced by the R.O.C. political system and the settlement has completely lost its traditional political autonomy. The new administrative offices (such as village head) can only deal with other settlements, or with higher-level bureaucratic units. Within a settlement, church leaders now play, to a limited extent, the traditional role of the lisigadan lus-an.

Social Control and Conflict. Traditionally, intra- and intersettlement conflicts were resolved by the lisigadan lus-an and the gavian. In fact, this mechanism was grounded in common beliefs and customs, through which a consensus could be created by way of social pressure on the deviant. The presence of Han Chinese immigrants and merchants who do not share Bunun beliefs and customs has weakened this form of social control, and generates conflict in the course of competition for their respective economic benefit. The R.O.C. government has taken a large part in resolving this kind of social conflict. Thus, not only has the mechanism of social control changed, but so has the nature of social conflict. Social conflict between the Bunun and the Chinese has become more serious.

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