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Claude Levi-Strauss has long been interested in the role of reciprocity, in the form of social exchange, in creating and main­taining bonds of affiliation in human societies (see, of course, Levi-Strauss 1969). In “The Bear and the Barber” he compares and contrasts two structural types usually assumed to be pro­foundly different from each other. The structural type denoted by the word “bear” in the title of the paper is labelled “totemic”: he considers it characteristic of classic Australian aboriginal groups, among others. By “barber” he is referring to the caste system of India.
Levi-Strauss's primary concern in this study is, as we have indi­cated, with a problem in symbolic analysis. He argues, for ex­ample, that “totemic ideas appear to provide a code enabling man to express isomorphic properties between nature and culture” (1963: 2). For instance, he reports that there is a widespread prac­tice in India of naming not only castes, but clans within castes, with terms denoting occupations or manufactured goods. Levi-Strauss compares this with tie practice of ‘totemic’ societies, such as those of Australia, where the tendency is to name clans after plants and animals, and he concludes: in India, where products or symbols of occupational activities are clearly differentiated as such and can be put to use in order to express differences between social groups, vestiges or remnants of totemic groups have come to make use of a symbolism that is technological and occupational in origin.
His reference to “vestiges or remnants” must not be allowed to go without comment. Levi-Strauss is most emphatic in stating that he is not interested in the issue of evolution or even of sequence: we never refer to a past or present institution but to a classificatory device whereby discrete elements of the external world are associated with the discrete elements of the social world.[1]
While we must respect his intentions, surely we are entitled to note, for our purposes, the implication of sequence in his work—whether Levi-Strauss is concerned with it or not. Thus he has noted that ‘vestiges or remnants of totemic groups’ are to be detected among contemporary castes, but nowhere does he suggest that simi­lar ‘vestiges’ of caste are to be noted among totemic groups. There is an unavoidable implication that he assumes that caste evolved (or otherwise derived) from some prior structural form in which ‘totem-ism’ was much more pronounced, for only “vestiges” remain. His final paragraph in this paper is therefore relevant:
societies are not made up of the flotsam and jetsam of history, but of variables; thus widely different institutions can be reduced to transforma­tions of the same basic figure, and the whole of human history may be looked upon merely as a set of attempts to organize differently the same means, but always to answer the same questions (Ibid.: 10).
Let us turn, then, to the similarities and differences that Levi-Strauss has detected between a ‘totemic’ and a ‘caste’ soci­ety. To begin with, he points out that ‘totemic’ groups are charac­terized by a rule of exogamy—as opposed to the ‘caste’ rule of endogamy. That is to say, in a ‘totemic’ society we observe a num­ber of discrete social divisions or segments (variously labeled “clans”, “sections”, “subsections”, or whatever), each of which is named after or otherwise identified with a particular animal, plant, or insect. Men of such a group—that is, an exogamous unit of the society—equate themselves (and are equated by others) with the totemic life form. They claim to be descended or otherwise derived from it, and are customarily forbidden to eat the totemic object, although they are free to eat the totemic objects of sister groups of their own society.[2]
All the groups (‘totemic clans’) of the society engage in the same subsistence activities (presumably, hunting and gathering) and provide for the needs of the members with—it would seem, for Levi-Strauss—a minimum of economic exchange. There are few specialists, and no specialist ‘clans’. Each ‘clan’, however, obeys the rule of exogamy: a male and a female of the same ‘clan’ may not marry each other, and so the spouse for each member of the society must be sought in a ‘clan’ or ‘section’ other than his or her own.
In effect, therefore, what Levi-Strauss perceives among ‘to­temic’ societies is a relative absence of economic exchange between component social units, coupled with a required spouse exchange between the units. In contrast, he observes, ‘castes’ are rarely economically independent. Instead, they engage in a complex sys­tem of exchange of goods and services with each other, while each strictly observes a rule of endogamy, marrying offspring only within the group and never making marital exchanges with any other group. We may conclude, therefore, that when Levi-Strauss discusses ‘caste’ societies his concern is with the endogamous unit, or what we have referred to as the ‘marriage-circle’—though he, of course, uses only the somewhat ambiguous term ‘caste’.
In Levi-Strauss' own words: An Australian section or sub-section actually produces its women for the benefit of the other sections, much as an occupational caste produces goods and services which the other castes cannot produce and must seek from this caste alone. Thus it would be inaccurate to define totemic groups and caste systems as being one exogamous and the other endogamous. These are not real properties existing as such, but superficial and indirect conse­quences of a similarity which should be realized at a deeper level. In the first place, both castes and totemic groups are `exo-practical': castes in relation to goods and services, totemic goods in relation to marriage. In the second place, both remain to some extent 'endo-practical': castes by virtue of the rule of endogamy and Australian groups as regards their preferred type of matrimonial exchange, which being mostly of the `restricted' type, keeps each tribe closely self-contained and, as it were, wrapped up in itself. It would seem that allowing for the above restrictive considerations, we have now reached a satisfactory formulation, in a common language, of the relationship between totemic groups and castes. Thus we might say that in the first case—totemic groups—women, that is, biological individu­als or natural products, are begotten naturally by other biological individu­als, while in the second case—castes—manufactured objects or services rendered through the medium of manufactured objects are fabricated cul­turally through technical agents. The principle of differentiation stems in one case from nature and in the other from culture...In totemic systems, men exchange culturally the women who pro­create them naturally, and they claim to procreate culturally the animal and vegetable species which they exchange naturally: in the form of food­stuffs which are interchangeable, since any biological individual is able to dispense with one and to subsist on the others. A true parallelism can therefore be said to exist between the two formulas, and it is possible to code one into the terms of the other. Indeed, this parallelism is more complex than we believed it to be at the beginning. It can be expressed in the following tortuous way: castes naturalize fallaciously a true culture while totemic groups culturalize truly a false nature.[3]
It must be apparent that while Levi-Strauss starts with the ethnographic datum he moves swiftly to the realm of metaphor. His primary interest is clearly with fundamental, or underlying, structural principles. Though he begins by talking of Australian totemic groups and Indian castes, it is necessary for us to perceive that he is really concerned with the essential ‘totemic group’ and the essential ‘caste’ and not with any actual group of people in either Australia or India.
But if his approach enables him to reveal for us underlying structural principles, relationships, and congruence’s, it also re­quires him to limit the attention he can give to ethnographic de­tails. For example, it seems to me that he has oversimplified (at least for the needs of this book) the matter of economic specializa­tion and exchange among even the simplest of hunting and gather­ing societies. Thousands of years ago, perhaps hundreds of thou­sands of years ago, substances common in one locality and rare in others were exchanged over enormous distances. Flint, amber, and salt are examples of such items, but by no means exhaust the list. Such exchange was of course reciprocal—between equals—just as exchange between units of the caste system, as we have seen, is redistributive. Since such matters are irrelevant for his purposes, Levi-Strauss simply ignores them. Similarly, while Levi-Strauss refers to economic exchange between ‘castes’ he is not concerned with the details of that exchange.
 If there is oversimplification in his presentation of economic exchange within the two societal types, we must expect a similar absence of attention to detail on the issue of exchange of marriage partners. He focuses, for example, on endogamy as the integrative principle of ‘caste’ but has nothing to say about exogamy in such a society. But the phenomenon of exogamous subdivisions of castes—such as gotras—is much too prevalent in India to be ignored.' Clearly, we are dealing with a structural principle relat­ing to the integration of the marriage-circle, just as endogamy relates to the integration of the total system.
In no way, of course, does this weaken Levi-Strauss' essential argument. His “caste” (my “marriage-circle”) is a body without significant internal economic exchange, without specialization of household against household. It is likely, however, to contain a large number of people scattered over a very wide area. Such a body (reminiscent of a total “totemic” society) may therefore re­quire an integrative principle if it is to maintain itself over time, and it should come as no surprise, given the illumination provided by Levi-Strauss, to find exogamy as the principle. And, finally, what of endogamy in the “totemic” situation? Levi-Strauss introduces but does not pursue this issue, but we may note that it is almost unavoidably present as a feature of the total system. Levi-Strauss concentrates on the exogamous unit—the “totemic” clan—but unit implies system of units, and we may be certain that the units are exchanging marriage-partners within a definable boundary. If, as is almost invariably the case everywhere, the human universe contains aliens or outsiders, then endogamy must be present, too: members of “totemic” clans cannot marry with people who do not belong to exogamous “totemic” clans, or even with those who belong to unfamiliar clans. Levi-Strauss slights endogamy of “totemic” clans because he is concerned with internal structure; for his purposes, a “totemic” clan society might almost be said to exist in a vacuum. For my purposes, concern for internal structure must be matched with concern for relations be­tween groups. It is important here to be clear about what we have learned from Levi-Strauss; later, and with the aid of the insights he has given us, we can turn to other questions.[4]
Nesfield, like Levi-Strauss, contrasted “tribe” and “caste” in terms of economic behavior, and also noted the relationship be­tween economic behavior and the fact that a caste constituted a “marriage union”—but there the similarity between the two schol­ars ends. It is not merely that Nesfield was unaware of the phe­nomenon of exogamy/endogamy; Nesfield's problem was that, given his time, he could deal only with surface attributes.[5]
Levi-Strauss bids us see structural contrast between “totemic” society and “caste” society and then bids us peer further and note, at a deeper structural level, an inherent similarity or congruence between the two. In both cases, we see that we are dealing with non-homoge­neous societies, for each is made up of discrete, definable units (in one case “clan” and in the other “caste”). In each case, the units must have a regularized, or structured, interrelationship if the society is to continue as a system. In the totemic, or tribal, case, the structured exchange is of marital partners, since the economy, to Levi-Strauss, is too generalized to permit the kind of specialization of production or service that might require structured economic exchange. In the case of “caste”, such a structured economic exchange is in existence and is the integrative feature of the socioeconomic system—and mar­riage exchange between “castes” does not occur. There are, we see, significant structural similarities.[6]
All of this is very much in accord with our previous findings. If marriage-circle endogamy is necessary to pre­serve and maintain the total caste system (the integrative feature of which, Levi-Strauss tells us, is structured economic exchange), then gotra exogamy—within the marriage-circle—may also be an integrative feature, but at a subordinate structural level. While exogamy is the integrative feature of the total society in the “totemic” condition, and endogamy the integrative feature of the total society in the “caste” condition, exogamy may serve to integrate the component unit—the marriage-circle—in the case of the caste system. We are dealing with levels of structural complexity that bear an organic relationship to one another.
Is the structural congruence we have been shown by Levi-Strauss solely a result of some set of universal sociological or psycho­logical principles at work, or does it, perhaps in addition, also reflect genetic relationship?  Once we raise the issue of genetic relationship, we are faced with a curious problem. Since, by Levi-Strauss' definition, a “to­temic group” society has the simplest kind of subsistence economy known to us, we are unable to ask what came before it. Not so with “caste”, again according to Levi-Strauss, for there we see specializa­tion and complex interchange of goods and services. A society such as the one Levi-Strauss has subsumed under the heading of “caste” cannot be traced too far back in time, and so if the structural simi­larities with “totemic groups” are significant, would it not be reason­able to assume that something on the order of “totemic groups” preceded “caste” in actual evolutionary sequence? Unhappily, Levi-Strauss has not provided us with the kind of detail we need to approach such questions. For example, while we may at this point know something about the nature of caste, we definitely need to know much more about “totemic groups”. What does “clan” really mean, at least for the purposes of this work? How many varieties of clans are there, and which varieties must we distinguish among here? Finally, what happens to a “clan-type” society when economic stratification is in the process of coming into existence? In other words, can we trace the development of a “totemic group” society into a “caste” society, assuming that such a thing has ever taken place?[7]
For answers to these questions—or at least for a prologue to the answers—we must turn to the work of another theorist, Paul Kirchhoff. True, Kirchhoff's writings have received much less at­tention than those of Levi-Strauss, for his most important paper, “The Principles of Clanship in Human Society”, was written origi­nally in 1935 and did not see publication until 1955—and then only in a rather obscure journal. It has since been reprinted, however, and brought to the attention of a wider audience. We shall quote from the version of Kirchhoff's paper that appeared in the second edition of Readingsin Anthropology, Volume II: Cultural Anthropology, edited by Morton H. Fried (1968).
Kirchhoff was concerned—in 1935, we must bear in mind—with the need to reopen and reconsider the issue of cultural evolu­tion. As we have seen, the first half of the present century was characterized, in the social sciences, by a widespread bias against evolutionist approaches. Kirchhoff noted that Lewis Henry Mor­gan and other early evolutionists had contributed in some ways to the disfavor into which ‘cultural evolution’ had fallen. According to Kirchhoff, this was due particularly to their insistence on ‘uni­lineal’ evolution—that all human societies, pass through, sooner or later, the same particular set of evolutionary sequences.
Kirchhoff suggested that cultural evolution was likely to have been as ‘multilineal’ as we know biological evolution to have been. With this concern in mind, he focused on one particular social phenomenon of interest to evolutionists, that of ‘clan’: One of the tasks, therefore, which confronts us in studying the evolution of the clan and its role in the history of society is to inquire which different forms of the clan are found to exist, and what their mutual genetic relationship is. We see that Kirchhoff is specifically searching for answers to some of the questions raised here as a result of Levi-Strauss' analy­sis of ‘totemic group’ and ‘caste’.
According to Kirchhoff, in societies representing the simplest (and/or. earliest) condition of human existence “the concept of de­scent is still completely absent”. While familial relationships may certainly exist in such societies, Kirchhoff presumes that the community as a whole does not reflect organization according to any principle of descent: rather, the social body is an impermanent collectivity of families and individuals and is' usually quite small in number. The members of one such group, or band, are free to stay together if they wish, or to go off and join another. In such a case, Kirchhoff argues, there are no restrictions on marriage within or between groups (apart, we would assume, from those restrictions reflecting rules against immediate-family incest): “Society here can still do without the concept of descent and consequently without the rule of exogamy”.[8]
Kirchhoff, then, begins with a type of social organization, the simple band, that is conceptually earlier than Levi-Strauss' “to­temic group”, for he sees the latter developing out of the former: The increasing cooperative character of economic activity requires forms of kinship organization which insure greater stability of the cooper­ating groups (which in primitive society predominantly means groups of relatives). Greater stability of the cooperating groups of relatives requires some principle which more clearly sets off one such group from the other, and which at the same time, assures their continuity in time. The principle of clanship, based on the concept of descent, does both. In other words, the function of the clan is to assure stable and continuous cooperation. It takes a number of different forms, but its es­sence appears to be the same everywhere: to group together in one perma­nent unit all those persons, living or dead, who can claim common de­scent. This group is commonly called a clan or sib.[9]
It can be concluded that there is no unbridgeable gulf between Levi-Strauss and Kirchhoff, despite their very differ­ent theoretical perceptions and interests. Indeed, Kirchhoff's view of the ‘function’ of clanship would probably not distress Levi­ Strauss—but of course Kirchhoff is primarily concerned with mat­ters of sequence and causation, and he goes on to point out: there are important, even striking differences between some of the main forms which the principle of clanship took concretely. To anticipate one of the main results of our survey: some of these forms seem to lead comparatively early to the stage of stagnation, or into a blind alley if we may say so, while others seem to possess far greater possibilities of development.
The ‘forms of clans’ that Kirchhoff perceives are very impor­tant for this work, but before we continue with his analysis a few cautionary remarks are necessary. To begin with, Kirchhoff ap­pears to believe that the simplest hunting and gathering societies are characterized by what he calls the “amorphous type of kinship” and therefore neither need nor know “clanship” organization. Such an assertion is certainly open to challenge, to say the least. Secondly, Kirchhoff uses the term “clan” in a somewhat am­biguous fashion. Morton Fried, in his introduction to Kirchhoff's paper, points this out: 'Kirchhoff himself notes, for example, that in aboriginal Australia, as in certain other parts of the world, complete and complex ‘clan structures are found in association with what he considers to be ‘lower forms of the economy’; that is, ‘hunting and gathering’. This alone should serve to alert us to the fact that not all ‘hunting and gathering’ situations are comparable: some circumstances may permit, or require, different forms of social organization under different conditions. And it follows, equally, that not all ‘higher forms of economic organization’ are the same, and that we must carefully avoid simplistic one-to-one equations of economic level and social form. Although Kirchhoff says he is talking about clanship, he is really talking about something much broader—corporate kin groups. It is true that some of these are clans, but others are better classified as lineages or kindred’s.
Fried goes on to discuss some of the differences between ‘clan’ and ‘lineage’ but we, bearing these cautions in mind, may now return to Kirchhoff's proposals for distinguishing types of clans. He believes that “the overwhelming majority of tribes” in the world that are in fact organized on a principle of descent ex­hibit one of only two types of clans (or of what Fried has called “corporate kin groups”). Kirchhoff writes: The first of these two types is that of unilateral exogamous clans, either of the patrilineal or matrilineal variety.... no attention needs to be paid here to this difference, since our main aim is to show what distinguished both of them from the other type of clan which is neither unilateral nor exogamous.
The formative features of the first type of clan, in both of its vari­eties are: (1) The clan consists of people who are related to each other either through women only or through men only—according to the cus­toms of the tribe; (2) every member of the clan is, as far as clan member­ship goes, on an absolutely equal footing with the rest: the nearness of relation to each other or to some ancestor being of no consequence for a person's place in the clan: (3) members of the clan may not marry each other.
In other words, the, principles underlying this type of clan are: unilateral, “equalitarian”, exogamous. They constitute one indivisible whole. It is no accident that practically everywhere where we find one of them we find the other two. Neither of them would, in fact, by itself produce the same result.
These principles of clanship, or rather this threefold principle, leads to sharply defined, clearly separate units, comparable to so many blocks out of which society is built. There have to be always at least two such blocks—two clans living in connubium. Usually there are more than two.[10]
The decisive difference between the first and the second type of clan is that what matters in the one is relationship through either men or women (according to the customs of the tribe), irrespective of the nearness of such relationship to the other members of the group or to some ancestor—whereas, on the contrary, in the other type it is precisely the nearness of relationship to the common ancestor of the group which matters. The first of the two principles of clanship results in a group the members of which are of absolutely equal standing, as far as this standing is determined by membership in the group (leaving aside the question of age). The second principle results in a group in which every single member, except brothers and sisters, has a different standing: the concept of the degree of relationship leads to different degrees of membership in the clan. In other words, some are members to a higher degree than others.[11]
The logical consequence of this state of affairs is that at a certain point it becomes doubtful whether a person is still to be regarded as a member of a certain clan—a question that could never arise in a unilateral-exogamous clan. Clan membership so-to-speak shades off the farther one is from the center-line of the clan—the real core of the group. This core, the aristoi, consists of those who are the nearest descendants of the common ancestors of the clan. In most tribes descent is customarily either through men or, more rarely, through women, but frequently, especially in the case of the aristoi, descent may be counted through either of them. That side being chosen which gives a person a higher descent, i.e., a closer relationship with the ancestor of the group. The term ‘ambilateral’ has been coined for this system. Genealogies, unknown and unnecessary in a unilateral clan, are here the means of establishing the ‘line’ of descent of the nobles—this ‘line’ being another concept unknown in unilateral clans.
A corollary of the second principle of clanship is that there is no exogamy in the sense defined above. In fact, there could be none, since there are no groups with definite and fixed “boundaries.” On the contrary, we frequently find close endogamy—however, usually only for the aristocracy. Marriage between relatives of high descent assures that their offspring will be of still higher descent.[12]
Today, as Fried indicates, the issue of ‘lineality’ is much better understood. Perhaps, had Kirchhoff had contemporary lit­erature available to him—and had he given more attention to the implications of the Australian ‘clan’ instead of pushing the whole subject under the figurative rug—he might not have given so much weight to ‘unilaterality’ as a diagnostic condition. Let us observe, too, that Kirchhoff shares with Levi-Strauss an apparent lack of interest in the relations between societies. Does 'Kirchhoff assume that a society evolves in a vacuum? The subject is an important one, but discussion will have to be postponed to a later section. If we return to the illuminations provided by Kirchhoff, we may begin by noting that Kirchhoff's first type of corporate kin group is essentially the same as Levi-Strauss' “totemic” clan. Their concerns are very different, but both writers would draw our atten­tion to societies composed of equalitarian exogamous units. Levi Strauss made us consider the implications of the rule of exogamy; now Kirchhoff leads us to consider the significance of equality of membership.
Kirchhoff's contribution is, as we shall see, an important one for the development of anthropological theory about cultural evolu­tion. The distinction Kirchhoff pointed to between types of kin groups has borne much fruit, though today, as Fried notes, we can express the distinction somewhat more sharply: it is useful to hold the definition of clan to social units comprised of unilineally related members who trace their relationship through stipulated descent, that is, through ties which they cannot always explain genealogically. This contrasts with demonstrated descent, which involves specification of all genealogical connecting links. Unilineal groups based on this princi­ple are better termed lineages. Both kinds of groups can exist at the same time in the same society.[13]
But Kirchhoff's contribution does not consist merely of not­ing that some social groups are organized on a principle of equal membership through common and undifferentiated descent, while other groups are organized on the basis of differential membership through lines of descent. More significantly, Kirchhoff has intro­duced us to some of the implications of such different organizing principles. To begin with, he argues that equality of membership within the clan appears to imply a concurrent economic equality. That is, since no member of such a body can have a ‘right’ to a greater share than any other member in whatever the clan corporately possesses, all members must cooperate, and share equally, in the productivity and resources of the clan. On the other hand, differential member­ship appears to imply differential rights to, or in, the group's cor­porate possessions: “it is regarded as a matter of course that all leading economic, social, religious functions are reserved to those of highest descent.   With this observation, Kirchhoff moves to the consideration of the problem with which he is most concerned: What are the potentials for evolutionary change of the two social types, one socially and economically equalitarian, and the other socially and economically differentiated? With the development of production and of culture as a whole, the role of these aristoi within the life of the clan and the tribe becomes ever more important. The nearer in descent to the godlike ancestor a person is, the greater are his chances in the process of ever-growing economic and social differentiation. Social differentiation, at this stage of evolution of society, the condition sine qua non of the development of higher forms of cooperation, not only finds no obstacle in this type of clan, but on the contrary an extremely flexible medium, namely a hierarchy of relatives, based on the principle of nearness of descent”.[14]
For a long period to come this principle of clanship is able to adapt itself to the ever-growing complexity of social relations. A survey of the tribes organized into clans of this type shows a whole scale of such adapta­tions to the increasing degree of social differentiation within the tribes: mainly along the line of a more marked stratification of the members of one and the same group. Thus, some members of the clan may be chiefs and near-gods, while others, at the opposite end of the scale, may be slaves: yet all of them are regarded as relatives, and in many cases, are able to prove it.
The process of differentiation within the clan, while for a long time taking place within this flexible unit, finally reaches the point where the interests of those of equal standing, in all the clans of the tribe, come into such sharp conflicts with the interests of the other strata that their struggles, the struggle of by now fully-fledged social classes, overshadows the old principle of clanship and finally leads to the break-up of clan, first as the dominating form of social organization and then to its final disappearance. This point, at the end of one phase of human history, and the beginning of another, had just been reached when the Greeks, the Romans and the Germans enter into the light of documented history (ibid.: 379-80). What are the possibilities awaiting the type of clan Kirchhoff has labeled “unilateral, exogamous and equalitarian” when it confronts “the development of production and of culture as a whole”? The most striking aspect of this threefold principle of clanship is its extreme rigidity. It is hard to imagine in which direction this type of clan could develop further. This type of clan makes possible a kind of economic and general cultural cooperation which in its way seems perfect. But, as the term perfect implies, it seems to be the highest type of cooperation which can be achieved along this line of development. The growing forces of production at a certain stage demand important readjustments in the form of kinship organization of which this type appears to be incapable. Its absolute equalitarianism, combined with the complete subordination of its members to the interests of the clan as a whole, while making possible a certain type of primitive coop­eration, obstructs very efficiently the evolution of these tight forms, of cooperation which are based upon economic and social differentiation. Where, therefore, with this type of clan higher forms of economy have come into existence, as, e.g., those based on animal breeding, the development of which requires higher forms of cooperation, there this new economy has usually not gone beyond rather meager beginnings. The form of kinship organization which the unilateral-exogamous principle of clanship creates appears definitely as a blind alley, and more than that; at a certain stage of economic and general cultural evolution as an obstacle to further development. What constitutes its greatness at the same time constitutes its limits.[15]
Kirchhoff has argued then, to summarize and modernize, that there are significant recurrent variations in social organization. Some societies in the world, he observes, manifest themselves in terms of small familial or shifting-band groups. Apparently the simplest ones in technological and subsistence terms, these are for Kirchhoff therefore presumably representative of the earliest hu­man societies. While, in such societies kinship relationship may be a factor in locality-group formation and maintenance, the concept of ‘descent’—known or not—apparently is not significant. Other societies, however, are integrated by a principle of common membership by reason of descent. Kirchhoff points out that such societies fall into one of two categories: those in which descent, in the component ‘clans’, is expressed in ‘descent lines’ so that individuals are differentially descended from the common an­cestors; and those in which descent is undifferentiated (common for all) and all are equal members of the component exogamous ‘clans’.  Further, Kirchhoff argues, the type of membership to be found clearly and inescapably affects the economic standing of in­dividuals within the group. In ‘common descent’ societies all are equal members of the clan, so all share equally in the corporate possessions of the clan—for there is no basis for differential owner­ship or claim. In ‘differential-descent’ societies, on the other hand, there is a differential degree of membership within the clan: the line, say, of ‘first-born’ descendants of ‘first-born’ is distin­guished from other, lower-ranked lines. This creates the category of what Kirchhoff calls aristoi: those within any clan who are con­sidered to have ‘higher’ or ‘more important’ or ‘greater’ degrees of membership, and therefore equivalently greater rights of access to the corporate possessions of the group.
And finally, says Kirchhoff, given this difference in access, the “differential-descent” society has the capacity to evolve, in the event of propitious circumstances, into a complex, stratified state—as the aristoi of the clans together evolve into the upper class. The “common-descent” society, on the other hand, lacking an institu­tional framework for differentiation, is doomed—however propitious the circumstances—never to evolve in the direction of stratification and the state, and to remain fixed, “rigid”, and unchanging, in what Kirchhoff calls again and again a cultural “blind alley”.[16]
Julian H. Steward, for example, does not refer to Kirchhoff in his work Theory of Culture Change: The Methodology of Multilinear Evolution (1955), but he cer­tainly gives attention to the relationship between descent type and the process of cultural evolution. He is very much aware of the two types of kin groups noted by Kirchhoff. In Steward's view, there is in fact a genetic relationship be­tween what we have called “common-descent” and “differential-descent” groups. Specifically, he is convinced that when the con­cept of descent actually attains-significance in the development of human society, it first takes the form of descent lines or lineages. Then, over time, as the group grows larger and the lineages split into sublineages, it may happen that a given local group will be made up of people who can no longer “trace their relationship genea­logically” but who “still preserve a sense of kinship” (Ibid.: 153). Thus, for Steward, a society characterized by stipulated descent, or equalitarian membership, constitutes a comparatively late devel­opment—one possible direction that may be taken by groups or­ganized on the principle of demonstrated descent and differentiated membership. Two important and somewhat more recent writers on cul­tural evolution are Elman R. Service and Morton H. Fried. Let us note that both of them have been influenced by Julian Steward' and 'both, too, cite Kirchhoff's somewhat obscure paper in their writings.[17]
Elman Service, in his book Primitive Social Organization: An, Evolutionary Perspective (1962), discusses what he calls “lineal” tribes (apparently the equivalent of the “differential-descent” type) and what hey lumps together as “cognatic and composite” tribes, those based on a principle of stipulated descent (Ibid.: 120, 133, et passim). Service agrees with Steward that “cognatic and composite” societies derive from “lineal” ones—either because, in his view, of the impact of civilization upon “lineal” tribes, or because of certain special circumstances such as existence in some permanently “closed” territory, such as a South Pacific island (Ibid.: 134-37). However, while “lineal” tribes have an important place in Service's evolutionary scheme, he gives almost no attention in his work to the evolutionary consequences or potential of “cognatic or compos­ite” groups. Thus, while he does not use the words, it is apparent that “cognatic or composite” societies are as much of an evolution­ary “blind alley” to Service as they are to Kirchhoff.
Morton Fried, as we have seen, is explicit in expressing his obligation to Kirchhoff, and in his own contribution to the litera­ture on cultural evolution, The Evolution of Political Society: An Essay in Political Anthropology (1967), Fried does seem to be closer to Kirchhoff's position than he is to that of Steward and Service. Fried's distinction between “clan” (reflecting “stipulated” de­scent) and “lineage” (reflecting “demonstrated” descent) is, as we have already seen, only different in its terminology from the one proposed by Kirchhoff. Like Kirchhoff (and like both Steward and Service), Fried sees both “clan” and “lineage” as developing later than “egalitarian bands”. However, unlike Service and Steward, Fried gives no indication that he views “clan” as something that derives out of “lineage”. Rather, he sees both as forms of what he calls “rank societies,” with neither, apparently, to be accorded nec­essary evolutionary priority. But Fried devotes even less attention to the “clan” type than does Service, and it is clear that Fried, too, sees “clan” as an evolutionary “blind alley”. Stratification, in his view, derives from “lineage”-type “rank societies”.[18]
We see, therefore, that major contemporary writers on cul­tural evolution have concerned themselves with the consequences of principles of descent, but they have considered almost exclusively the fortunes of societies characterized by “differential descent”. Societies characterized by “common descent” are either ignored or relegated to the scrap heap of special exception. That is, whether they view such societies as late developments out of “differential descent” or as concurrent emergences, they all apparently agree with Kirchhoff that “common-descent” societies constitute an evo­lutionary “blind alley”.[19]

[1]       Suvira Jaiswal, Op.Cit., p. 27.

[2]       Suvira Jaiswal,Ibid., p. 127.

[3]       Suvira Jaiswal, Ibid.,

[4]       Marc Galanter, Op.Cit., p. 53.

[5]       Morton Klass, Op.Cit., p. 17.

[6]       Suvira Jaiswal, Op.Cit., p. 24.

[7]       Morton Klass, Op.Cit., p. 31.

[8]       M.N. Srinivas, Cohesive Role, p. 41.

[9]       M.N. Srinivas, Ibid., p. 43.

[10]      M.N. Srinivas, Ibid., p. 52.

[11]      Yogendra Singh, Modernization of Indian Tradition, New Delhi, Thompson Press, 1973, p. 40.

[12]      M.N. Srinivas, Cohesive Role, p. 51.

[13]      M.N. Srinivas, Ibid., p. 63.  Also see Yogendra Singh, Op.Cit., p. 41.

[14]      M.N. Srinivas, Cohesive Role, pp. 62-64.

[15]      Yogendra Singh, Op.Cit., pp. 35-40.

[16]      Marc Galanter, Op.Cit., p. 218.

[17]      Marc Galanter, Ibid., p. 219.

[18]      Marc Galanter, Ibid., p. 232.

[19]      Ibid.