Maisin - Sociopolitical Organization

Social Organization. The Maisin live in a relatively egalitarian society. Kinship obligations, marked by steady inFormal and formal exchanges, tend to level out differences in wealth and power and to provide support for the weak and elderly in the communities. Maisin frown upon those who show too much independence or who put themselves above others. However, some categories of people exercise more Influence and expect to be treated with deference: parents over children, elders over younger persons, kawo clans over sabu clans, wife givers over wife takers, and men over women.

Political Organization. Maisin divide political activities into three domains: the "village side," the "mission side," and the "government side." "Village side" affairs include life-cycle ceremonies, exchanges, and land and sorcery disputes. These are matters handled between kin or kin groups, in which patrician elders play a dominant role. "Mission side" affairs include the efforts of the church councils and Mothers' Unions to provide moral and monetary support for clergy and teachers. "Government side" affairs embrace the work of the Local Government Council and village business groups to promote development projects and locally organize for provincial and national elections. Frequently the same men become leaders in all three domains, largely through strength of personality, education and experience outside of the rural areas. Senior women have an indirect but important influence, especially in "mission side" and "village side" affairs. However, men dominate public politics.

Social Control. Informal sanctions, such as gossiping and strongly internalized values of respect and equivalence, provide the chief sources of social control. Fear of sorcery is another important sanction. Miscreants who are not brought into line informally may face a full village meeting or, in Serious cases, be taken to court at the subdistrict government station.

Conflict. Warfare and raiding were common until around 1910. Maisin eiders speak with some nostalgia of the great warriors in the past, but the only major conflict living Maisin have witnessed was that between the Japanese and Allies during World War II. Most conflicts today occur over land or Sorcery accusation and rarely involve violence.

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