Classification of Societies, Band, Tribes, Chiefdom & State

Tue, 02/11/2014 - 03:52 -- Umar Farooq

Classification of Societies

Societies have been classified in terms of their highest level is political integration, that occurs in terms of the nature of the political structure & authority. An eminent Anthropologist, Elman Service, classified societies into four kinds.

  1. Band
  2. Tribes
  3. Chiefdom
  4. State


Some societies are composed of bands which are the small and nomadic group of people. The earlier food collectors and heating people had the band organization. Band is small in size and in population but exist an integrated system of political organization. The people were collecting their food from forests, seas and they started in summer to go out in search of food. They used to visit different regions in food search and settled there but there was no permanent place of their setting. Band is annually or seasonally classified or divided into small groups classified or divided into small groups which becomes other bands. Band societies are egalitarian societies and have no private property.

The political organization is informed, in which no single person or place is nominated to decide any problem but the decision takes place collectively by the group. This political organization was found is almost all the societies before the agricultural period.


Tribal societies in the sense of political organization are the same as band societies. Their political system is egalitarian and informal. But the difference is that tribe’s societies are food producers in which agricultural & husbandry is more important than food collection & hunting. The size of tribe’s population is large and the groups are big as compare to band. In case of any external aggression, the integration of the people among kinship play a vital role is defense and the bands are tight.

The head of the tribe was nominated by the age and wisdom, so, the aged person was to be the chief or head of the tribe because of the agedness and experience. The aged man was the library of wisdom and had the experience to decide a situation. So the political organization was informal.


Chiefdom has some formal structure, integrated community and rules populated and the position of the chief is hereditary & almost permanent. Chiefdom have more economic productivity and the chief have the authority of redistribution as compare the tribes’ societies. The chief of a chiefdom posse a high status and rank in the society. He coordinate & mange the religious activities as well as labor responsibilities. He had the responsibility of directing and managing military activates .Chiefdom societies are practical in, south pacific chiefdom, Ayes and Tahiti etc.


State is a self-governing unit surrounded by many communities within a territory, having the power and authority to collect taxes, use men for work & war and enforce laws. State has a formal system of written rules and regulation. The economic system is highly developed and having technology. State societies have its centralized political structure. State has many social institutions in which executive, legislature, Judiciary and a large bureaucracy is bureaucracy is practicing. Different forces are used to control and defense indoor & out aggression control and defense indoor & out aggression of the country. For security purpose these force include Army, Navy, Air force and various police. The implementation of law and order is with the help of these forces. These state societies are found all over the world presently.