Peripatetics - Sociopolitical Organization

Peripatetics are keenly aware of the need to maintain social and economic flexibility among themselves to maximize their economic returns. Each household is an independent unit and it must fend for itself. Its success depends upon the wisdom of its decisions regarding whether to break camp and move, which route to take, where to pitch a new camp, and how long to camp and with whom. While these are the crucial questions for each household's survival, the households must also maintain the ties among themselves for the survival of the group. Different peripatetic groups use different strategies to manage these critical tasks.

Social Organization. The factors that influence group cohesiveness are regional affiliation, agnatic ties in a ramifying descent system, matrilateral and affinal relations, ritual friendship, and resource potentials. Camps and bands are constituted on the basis of these factors.

Political Organization. Generally, peripatetics have been isolated from state and regional politics. Most of them do not know about or are unconcerned about political changes taking place in the country. They do not participate in any political activity and the majority of them probably do not vote. The only contact they have with governmental authority is with the subordinate police officers and sometimes with development officers.

Social Control. Social control is generally maintained by the council of elders. The council organization and its functions vary from group to group. The procedures it may adopt to resolve disputes are based on the traditions in each group. The objective is not merely to resolve a dispute per se but to arrive at a consensus in which the past behavior of the individuals and their families is also kept in view. In addition, the threat of excommunication and endogamy ensure conformity to the traditions of the group to a considerable degree. When disputing parties fail to reach a consensus, a camp band may dissolve, and different units involved in the case may travel on their own or seek to join other camps or bands.

Conflict. Conflicts and misunderstandings among peripatetics arise for a variety of reasons. Most common are those concerning marriage, sexual relations, travel routes, duration of a camp, and distribution of resources. Peripatetics generally avoid disputes with the settled populations on which they are dependent.

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