Gerontocracy

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Gerontocracy

 

a term introduced by the English ethnologist W. Rivers, at the beginning of the 20th century, to designate an early form of society in which power allegedly belonged to the elders. Rivers considered gerontocracy to be characteristic for the Australians and certain peoples of Oceania. In actual fact, the influential position held by the elder members of the commune is only one of the elements of supreme power among various peoples in primitive communal society.

References in periodicals archive ?
As recently as this spring, many of our best Sinologists were still insisting that the Communist regime had been so discredited internally by the Tiananmen massacre that it wouldn't long outlive Deng Xiaoping and the other gerontocrats who ordered tanks onto the square.