Nayaka - Sociopolitical Organization



Social Organization. The Nayaka are highly egalitarian and individualistic. They have various leveling mechanisms to prevent the development of inequalities of wealth, power, and prestige. Very few persons maintain friendships, or other binding interpersonal ties, outside their own conjugal family. Cooperation and communication between the highly individuated conjugal families is facilitated by the still-single persons who move between the conjugal families. Conjugal families occasionally cooperate with such single persons in subsistence pursuits. The single persons are important channels of communication within the local community.

Political Organization. The Nayaka have a band society, with no overarching administrative or political organization. Its constituent units are autonomous families and Individuals, who aggregate themselves voluntarily into ad hoc, fluid, and open-ended social groupings: the coresidents of a Hamlet, for example, or the participants in a celebration. Neither Nayaka society itself, nor any of its local communities, constitutes a political community. There are no offices carrying authority or power. Today, there is external pressure on the Nayaka to organize themselves as a political unit or to appoint representatives.

Social Control. Valuing individual autonomy above all, Nayaka refrain from intervening in other people's affairs; even gossip is rare. When intervention is necessary, they appeal to outside agencies (neighbors or deities).

Conflict. Nayaka prevent conflicts by avoiding cooperation and competition and by moving away from potential confrontation. The few conflicts that occur are mainly over women.


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