Social Organization. The various lineage groups constitute the main apparatus of social organization. Social and economic class differences based on differential access to property, leadership positions, and education have always existed.
Political Organization. Some loose alliances of the past among groups of nagari were organized into permanent districts for modern administrative purposes. Other modern districts are not based on traditional alliances. West Sumatra is now divided into eight districts ( kabupaten ), which are divided into subdistricts ( kecamatan ), and further into nagari. Also, there are six municipalities ( kota madya ) in the province. Each nagari has a mayor ( wali nagari ) elected by the village council but approved by the bupati, who is the government-appointed head of the district. At the villagecouncil level and below are the chiefs ( panghulu ) of the various lineage segments who adjudicate property rights and other matters of traditional law and receive labor service ( serayo ) from other lineage members in return.
Social Control and Conflict. National police and courts as well as traditional (adaik) and Islamic courts operate. Conflicts involve disputes over property and leadership positions, and differences between religious beliefs and practices of traditional Shafi'i and modern fundamentalists.