redistributive chiefdom

redistributive chiefdom

a type of economy and political system in a relatively complex form of TRIBAL SOCIETY in which the control of a central storehouse for a pool of communal goods is in the hands of a ‘big man’ or chief. According to some theories, such a form of political system can be seen as the forerunner of state formation proper (see Sahlins, 1972; Harris, 1978). Such redistributive systems allow the centre to accumulate goods and to utilize these for the enhancement of rank, and for the employment of specialist personnel such as priests, soldiers and craftsmen, and for the enhancement of the power and rank of the chief.
Collins Dictionary of Sociology, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2000