Evolution in Humans of Macro-level Social Stratification and Language

  • Allan Mazur
Conference paper


Modern humans and chimpanzees had a common ancestor, perhaps as recently as five million years ago. We may infer from the behavior of living primates that this ancestor was highly social, living in primary (face-to-face) groups sufficiently small in size — say 100 people — so that members knew and responded to one another as individuals, and they communicated through gestures and vocalizations [Mazur 1973]. Interaction within each group was structured by a fairly stable dominance hierarchy based on age and sex classes, kinship, and individual differences, with high ranked members enjoying more power, influence, and valued prerogatives than low ranked members. Neither material capital nor cultural tradition were very cumulative, so different groups of our common ancestors, living thousands of years and miles apart, looked pretty much alike.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • Allan Mazur
    • 1
  1. 1.Public Affairs ProgramSyracuse UniversitySyracuseUSA

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