Semang - Sociopolitical Organization



Social Organization. Conjugal families are the basic units of society. They are linked flexibly by bonds of kinship and friendship. There are no social classes.

Political Organization. No adult Semang has authority over any other adult or the means of coercing others. Individual autonomy is highly respected. Competent or persuasive individuals, male and female, may emerge as natural leaders, but people need not follow their advice. Some men are designated as "headmen" by the Department of Aboriginal Affairs, but they are only mediators between the group and outsiders and have no authority within the group.

Social Control. There are no coercive control mechanisms. Antisocial behavior is discouraged by informal social pressure and through concepts of disease that blame anyone who mistreats or frustrates another as the cause of illness in the victim. Some norms, such as the prohibition on incest, are believed to be enforced by the thunder god, who kills the offender with a violent thunderstorm or disease.

Conflict. Semang abhor violence. Disputes between Semang are infrequent and are usually settled by a public airing of grievances resulting in a consensus solution. Individuals who do not get along tend not to camp together. They usually respond to conflict with outsiders by moving where they cannot be found.


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