Archaeological and Historical Contexts for the Coded Societies

Part of the Fundamental Issues in Archaeology book series (FIAR)

The degree to which a state will have collective properties is hypothesized to reflect, in part, how revenues are constituted, especially the degree to which revenues are taxpayer-produced (Levi 1988). Below we describe a systematic method for cross-cultural comparison to evaluate ideas about social processes in political evolution stemming from rational choice theory. However, this kind of broadlystated hypothesis cannot be a detailed recipe for how a collective polity might be constructed in a particular situation, or whether, in fact, one would develop at all. We fully expect that even where there are social forces favoring collective action, the form of collectivity will have some unique properties in each case resulting from the opportunities and constraints afforded by local culture and other local factors. While we are interested in the degree to which theoretical predictions provide explanations for social process, we developed a research design that demands that we address theory and generalization alongside a consideration of area particulars. We designed these procedures to enable us to transcend the arguments between processualists, on the one hand, and the local area studies researchers, on the other (Lichbach [2003] summarizes the debate as it has raged in political science). For one thing, we wanted area specialists to have sufficient information available to permit the evaluation of our coding decisions.


State Formation Historical Context Political Evolution Local History Slave Trade 
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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

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