Peloponnesians - Sociopolitical Organization

Social Organization. In rural areas social life is remarkably classless and egalitarian. There are often differences in Material circumstances among villagers, but they are rarely very great and tend to be less important than reputation and behavior as indicators of social position. One's family situation is also important. A person who makes a good marriage and has well-behaved, successful children (preferably sons) is more respected than a well-to-do individual with no spouse or children. In the towns and cities distinctions are more pronounced and generally depend on one's occupation as well as wealth. Those with some education and nonmanual jobs are usually viewed as superior to workers. Professionals stand at the top of the social order and are usually accorded a great deal of deference. Doctors and lawyers are also usually well compensated for their work.

Political Organization. As citizens of the Greek republic, the inhabitants of the Peloponnesos participate fully in democratic political life, electing representatives to parliament, local mayors, and village council members. Although it once was considered a royalist stronghold, and even today it often is identified with the Right, the Peloponnesos has no real Political identity. All political parties are represented and all are active in the region.

Social Control. Members of a national police force maintain control in villages and cities. They are always assigned to regions far away from their homes to minimize possible conflicts of interest. Criminal and civil matters are handled by an extensive system of district, regional, and national courts, which are supplemented by justices of the peace who often travel to villages to mediate disputes. Minor disputes over livestock and crops are usually handled locally by an agrofylakas (field warden), although inhabitants have full recourse to formai courts for any matter, serious or trivial.

Conflict. Vendettas and clan feuds, common in Mani during the eighteenth and even nineteenth centuries, have long disappeared and peace reigns in the area. The region suffered terribly during the Axis occupation of World War II—many starved and thousands were killed. In the village of Kalavryta all the males over a certain age, some 1,400 in all, were executed en masse in reprisal for attacks on German soldiers by guerrillas, and many other villages suffered similar punishments. Civil war broke out following the departure of the occupying forces and thousands more were killed, but since then there has been no major conflict in the Peloponnesos.

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