, Volume 1, Issue 2, pp 111–130 | Cite as

On the rank system in a natural group of Japanese monkey (I)

—the Basic and Dependent Rank—
  • Masao Kawai


Numerous papers have been published on the social rank in animal societies, in which the rank is usually attributed to the physical force such as manifested in the pecking order or to the influence of such physiological factors as the maturity, hormonal secretion, bodily weight, etc. In highly organized mammalian societies, however, the mechanism of the social order is hardly understood through such physiological aspect only. So far as the social rank is based on physiological factors alone, it should be a simple one and interpreted quite mechanically, and the mechanism and the meaning of the rank system as a social constitution must also be a simple one.

In the society of Japanese monkeys, however, the factors which determine and support its rank system seem to be sought for not only in such physiological aspect but also in psycho-sociological dynamic factors which act in the social field. Thus the rank is to be studied not only as the dominancesubordination relationship between two individuals not interfered by the group to which they belong, but also in the field of social dynamics, where group and interpersonal effects are at work.

The followings are some of the results of my study on the social rank of the Kō-Sima group illustrated in Fig. 1.

  1. 1.)

    The group of Japanese monkeys has a double system in its social rank, i. e, the basic one and the dependent one. The basic rank (Tab. 1) is observable when each combination of two monkeys is not interfered by other monkeys. In some cases the basic rank seems to be determined by phisiological factors just as many of the social ranks of lower mammals and other vertebrates have hitherto been dealt with by biologists. But in the social life of Japanese monkeys, where the organization of the society is more complicated and more symbolic behaviors are recognized, the basic rank is not confined to such simple cases.

    The dependent rank, however, is observable when each combination is interfered by surrounding monkeys or the group. This rank is not so stable as the basic rank, and it changes with regularity in accordance with the social situation. I have shown the dependent ranking according to the several dependent effects, namely, the kinship effects by mother (Tab. 2), by brother and sister (Tab. 3), by uncle and aunt (Tab. 4), etc., and other effects by leader males, by special intimate relationships, by the internal section of the group (Tab. 5), by the whole group, etc. But in some cases it is difficult for me to assume what kind of effect acts on them.

  2. 2.)

    From the developmental viewpoint, it is the dependent ranking that appears first. In the baby stage, these monkeys live in close association with their mothers, and are always under the protection of the latter. So they can behave after their mothers' superiority and gain dependent rank. On the other hand, they themselves are the lowest of the basic rank, or more precisely, they lack the basic rank.

    The basic rank becomes recognized when they have grown to be able to behave independently of its mother and claim to have their own living. But in the fixation of the basic rank, the dependent effect by mother seems to play an important role. As they grow older, more complexed their social relations become, and so they recieve more complexed dependent effects on their rank. Some of the dependent ranks, which persist steadily, may turn to the basic rank.

  3. 3.)

    Those depending ranks may be classified into two categories.

  4. i.

    The primary dependent rank: based on personal relationships, such as the special intimate relation and kinship relation.

  5. ii.

    The secondary dependent rank: based on social relationships higher than personal level, such as relation between a leader and an adult female.

    I will state here of two cases of the secondary dependent rank. One of which is observed between a young monkey and a solitary monkey; the former takes the higher dependent rank availing himself of the group to which he belongs. The rank in this case concerns with the social relation between two different social statuses. In another case, where a certain female assumes a high dependent rank by having a special intimacy with the leader male, the rank concerns with the leader status of the male, which allow the female in question to secure the acknowledgement by other members of her privilege behavior. The status of the chief female and the nucleus female of our term are due to the dependent rank of this sort.

  6. 4.)

    Although the rank system are apt to be considered as a mere pile of each dominant-subordinate-relation between animals in a group, it has close connection, as verified in this paper, with other social structures such as class, status kinship relation and other social segmentation of group. These structures, including the rank system, cannot be treated separately, and above all, the kinship or family relation is seems to be the most influential in the ranking of a monkey society.



Dependent Effect Rank System Social Rank Japanese Monkey Kinship Relation 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1).
    Allee, W. C.: Social Dominance and Subordination among Vertebrates, Biological Symposia, Vol. VIII, 1942.Google Scholar
  2. 2).
    -- et al: Principles of Animal Ecology, 1950, pp. 413–415.Google Scholar
  3. 3).
    Carpenter, C. R.: Sexual behavior of free ranging rhesus monkeys (Macaca mulatta). II. J. Comp. Psychol, 1942.Google Scholar
  4. 4).
    Collias, N. E.: Social Life and the Individual among Vertebrate Animals, 1950.Google Scholar
  5. 15).
    Linton, R.: The Cultural Background of Personality, 1945.Google Scholar
  6. 19).
    Seward, G. H.: Sex and Social Order, 1946.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Japan Monkey Centre 1958

Authors and Affiliations

  • Masao Kawai
    • 1
  1. 1.Japan Monkey CenterJapan

Personalised recommendations