hierarchy, social relations, complexity, Chicago, Colin Renfrew, University of Chicago Press, Peer Polity Interaction and Socio-political Change, John F. Cherry, UK, Cambridge University Press, Carole L. Crumley, social science, Academic Press, New York, William H. Marquardt, structures, Marquardt, social complexity, University of North Carolina Epistemology Fascination, rank order, chaos and disorder, human relations, recognizable pattern of organization, complex society, complex societies, interest groups, administrative units, Gregory Johnson, Randall McGuire, societal structures, Lloyd Fallers, Sociohistorical structures, social inequality, Christine W. Gailey, definition of complexity, Barbara A. Seagraves, Pp, the Maya, Social Stratification, Gerald D. Berreman, Peer Polity Interaction, David L. Clarke, Perry Anderson, James A. Brown, political arena, hierarchical structure, Thomas C. Patterson, hierarchical organization, John Cherry, William H., Classic Maya, Clive Gamble, Stanislaw Ossowski
[In Power Relations and State Formation, edited by Thomas C. Patterson and Christine W. Gailey, pp. 155-69. Washington, D.C.
: Archeology Section/American Anthropological Association, 1987. Original pagination is cued in square brackets.] A Dialectical Critique of Hierarchy Carole L. Crumley University of North Carolina Epistemology Fascination with the idea of structure is both long-standing and deeply rooted. By structure I mean a recognizable pattern of organization in something composed physically or sociohistorically of interdependent parts. Thought and act conflate structure with order; as long as some pattern may be recognized we assume that things are running smoothly and that change, if it comes at all, will be gradual. Even morally and politically unacceptable structures are tolerated because their palpable existence guards against the even more fearful unknown. In this century widespread German acquiescence to the Nazi government is a powerful example of how, for a majority of individuals, any order is often more acceptable than no order. If structure and order are considered interchangeable, then chaos and disorder are similarly conflated. In so doing, we create a conceptual field in which structure serves as a metaphor for stability and familiar patterns are reproduced and exchanged--as communication between generations and within and among social groups--explaining to a great extent the essential conservatism of human activity
. In the material aspects of our daily lives, these reassuring repetitions of structure are visible and frequently acknowledged and celebrated. The patterns by which we recognize social relations
, while the subject of the cluster of disciplines termed the social sciences
, are both less well understood and more metaphoric than the terms and forms which distinguish quilt patterns or electronic circuitry. This is not to say that our metaphors for social relations are not also reproduced and exchanged, for indeed they are--consciously or unconsciously. My point is that if we are to bring to the level of consciousness our underlying assumptions about one structure or another in order to inform practical choice, we must first thoroughly explore the meanings and implications of various kinds of structures. Distinguished from structure, that untrappable beast process stalks the periphery of our empirical investigations, earning anew its associations with chaos, with change, and ultimately with death or entropy. Despite decades of attempts in anthropology and  elsewhere to find a means by which we might study process, a clear success has eluded us. This is because it is the relation between structure and process which is the proper focus of study. It behooves us to find ways to study structural change. A first task is to explore the implications of certain hidden meanings in our collective misunderstanding of the matter (Figure 1). Structure in state societies like our own is not equated simply with order but with rank order: the ubiquitous structural image is that of hierarchy. I have defined hierarchical structure elsewhere (Crumley 1979:144): "on the basis of certain factors some elements of . . . structure are subordinate to others and may be ranked." Hierarchy offers the subliminal and the conscious assurance that order prevails against chaos and
that energy is being expended to prevent the entropic slide.
[NEGENTROPY ORDER STABILITY STRUCTURE HIERARCHY
ENTROPY CHAOS CHANGE PROCESS HETERARCHY]
Figure 1. Metaphors and Their Antonyms Bracketed for Analysis
The most compelling examples of our willingness to see structure as hierarchical are in characterizations of social class. In a brilliant analysis, Stanislaw Ossowski (1963) has chronicled a long history of popular and scholarly notions of class relations. Beginning with Biblical sources and their echo in subsequent formulations from the Great Chain of Being through contemporary social science theory, Ossowski argues that such ideas are constructed and disseminated for the benefit of identifiable vested interests. The imagery is ponderous but effective: one speaks of "marrying up" or "beneath oneself" and of "climbing the social ladder." Of course, not all social scientists have envisioned a hierarchy of social relations; a small number have experimented with other structural forms (see, e.g., Berreman 1981; Bйteille 1981; Cancian 1976; Fallers 1973; and Freidel 1986). The difficulty has come in conceptualizing what those other forms might be. The representation of socially constructed reality as given to humans by nature is the essence of the art of myth making (Barthes 1973). It is, then, ironic but  predictable that instead of exploring the structural forms of nature and applying insights gained thereby to the study of human relations, we undertake the inverse: we see hierarchy everywhere in nature (e.g., Allen and Starr 1982; O'Neill et al. 1986; Pattee 1973; cf. Ricklefs 1987). Here, too, there have been exceptions, most notably in the area of artificial intelligence
. Although his work has been much cited for other reasons, Warren McCulloch (1945) should be known best for offering an alternative order (in the unadorned sense). This structure he termed heterarchy. He suggested, quite rightly, that the human brain, while reasonably orderly, was not organized hierarchically. This understanding facilitated the study of the brain and solved major problems in the fields of artificial intelligence and computer design. How can it be that such a seminal contribution to psychology, physiology, and technology has not been rapidly adopted in a broad social science context? Qui bono? In this circumstance, one might expect a variety of scholars to seize upon the idea of heterarchical social relations and contrast it with elements in the history of the study of social class. The handful of social science scholars mentioned above hardly approaches expected numbers. This suggests that we have indeed exposed an underlying assumption about how human relations might be characterized. David Clarke
(1972) terms such ubiquitous, unexamined assumptions "controlling models." I suggest that such unconscious adoption of hierarchy-as-order is endemic to what is termed complex society. In contrast, the "savage mind" of those whose societies are not ranked (not "complex") defies logic, linearity, history. This is not, of course, considered a lamentable
genetic or, for that matter, permanent condition. Australian aborigines or !Kung foragers may be infected quite easily with a desire for tinned sardines and whiskey, or, more correctly, be confined to reservations where hierarchical social relations are inescapable and commodities ubiquitous. Thence it is only a matter of the proper incubation time and circumstance; the old value of egalitarianism and the social relations which maintain it come under full assault (Leacock and Lee 1982). Without the familiar patterns of social and material life in which to find meaning and solidarity, the individual finds little solace. Anthropological research in the middle years of this century has documented the pitiable state of affairs to which members of such cultures are reduced: with practical options (e.g., economic, social, political action) curtailed, the only adaptive field is cognitive. The variety of adaptive cognitive strategies is considerable, ranging from madness (Fanon 1963) through revitalization movements such as the Ghost Dance  (Mooney 1965) and "enlightened cooperation" (Elkin 1951) to enthusiastic participation in and competition for the rewards of hierarchical society. New patterns eventually become familiar, and the learning of them frequently offers a sense of accomplishment. Anthony Wallace (1965) has termed the process by which this new state of mind is achieved "mazeway reformulation." Inasmuch as the so-called state level of organization is more common, we might say that there is a state state of mind (Diamond 1974). If this is so, it is not surprising that the kind of order we recognize is hierarchy and that it is so difficult to imagine, much less recognize and study, other structures which are not hierarchical. How, then, might other kinds of structures, other metaphors of order, be discerned and examined? Mindful of the need to focus on the relation between structure and process, I thought it best to begin thinking through this knotty question with examples embedded in a natural mosaic: the landscape. My work in settlement and land use was sparked by this question in the early 1970s, when a hierarchical marketing model, Central Place, dominated studies of the human use of the earth. The variety south Burgundy (France) offered in physical and sociohistorical structures (Marquardt and Crumley 1987:10) and their overlapping, rather than nested relations (Crumley 1976:68, 1979:143-145, 164) offered a practical laboratory for the generation of a new way of thinking about order. We set about studying the structure(s) of a single region through time, and were soon engaged in multiscalar as well as multitemporal analysis. Effective scale (Crumley 1979:164-165, 1985:176; Marquardt and Crumley 1987:10) is the scale at which structure among elements is perceived and pattern is recognized. Thus, the location of places sacred to Celtic deities in Burgundy, while plainly patterned (springs, high places) and predictable, is recognizable as a mosaic of physical and sociohistorical structures in a particular relation to one another. Collectively we term this patterned order heterarchy, following McCulloch (1945) and M. Minsky and S. Papert (1972; Crumley 1985). Structures are heterarchical when each element is either unranked relative to other elements or possesses the potential for being ranked in a number of different ways. It is fairly easy to imagine how various physical structures such as climate, vegetation, topography, and geology might be patterned without being characterized as hierarchical. It has become common in environmental studies to refer to patterned mosaics of vegetation ("patchiness") or patterns of summer thunderstorms. It is considerably more difficult, however, to discard the notion that the so-called Dark Age--the period in Western Europe
after the collapse of the Roman Empire
--was not a descent into hell. 
Sociohistorical structures include class, inheritance, descent, political liaisons and interest groups, defense, trade, laws and the administrative units through which people draft and enforce them; in short, sociohistorical structures are political, legal, and economic. To argue that none of these things existed in recognizable, patterned form after the fourth century A.D. and before the Renaissance is to prove my point: that hierarchy is a controlling model in complex society. What changed was the effective scale, of both our own perceptions and those of the people of the times, as well as very real change
s in the extent of trade, the pattern of marriage alliances, and the form of--and attitude toward--governing authority. Despite considerable necessity on the part of some to adapt to changed conditions, it has been argued elsewhere (Crumley and Marquardt 1987) that a range of relations, including the patron-client bond in many rural agricultural areas, remained in place for a millennium or longer. Most important for understanding the use of physical and sociohistorical structures in Burgundy or elsewhere is that their interpretations--aesthetic, symbolic, religious, ideological--determine and mutually define landscape. Change in the order of importance of certain structures and, ultimately, their modification and replacement, is both an adaptation to the physical environment and a resolution of conflict and contradictory interpretation s of the meaning of sociohistorical structures (Marquardt 1985:67-68). How is this research applicable to the study of social relations? Most importantly, it literally grounds the study of societal structures and relations, Removed from linguistic and spatial abstractions allowed by the hierarchical perceptions of social class, it requires us to determine whether various conceptualizations are acted out spatially through intentional and unintentional modification of the surroundings. Is it possible that a "state state of mind" leaves its mark on the landscape? Is there spatial evidence that documents the emergence of the concept of hierarchy? Are there examples of "complex" societies that are not social hierarchies? Is the emergence of complex societies truly evolutionary, that is to say, reversible? For that matter, just what is complexity? Answers to these questions may well be found in the application of the concept of hierarchy to both historically known and contemporary societies. In the next section, I offer a critical sampling of recent thought on the subjects of complexity and social inequality.  Critique Following Peter Blau (1977:9), Randall McGuire, in "Breaking Down Cultural Complexity: Inequality and Heterogeneity" (1983:93), explores complexity through the relation between inequality, viewed as differential access to resources, and heterogeneity, "the distribution of populations between social groups," i.e., variations in ethnicity or religion. For both Blau and McGuire, inequality refers to vertical social relations, that is to say, ranked or hierarchical relations. This is a rather unfortunate misunderstanding of the term inequality, despite its long history in the sociological and anthropological literature (Berreman 1981; Bйteille 1969; Cancian 1976; Fallers 1973; and see Ossowski 1963). Ruefully, the misunderstanding is equivalently long-lived. Lloyd Fallers (1973:299) attempts to correct this by noting that inequality seems more straightforward and less culturally biased than some other possibilities. He remarks that Louis Dumont (1970:19-20, Appendix A) prefers hierarchy, but to Fallers that term "suffers from
the same defects as 'stratification.' It implies a particular pattern of inequality: that of an organizational chain of command" (1973:299, emphasis added). The insistence of those researchers in seeing all differentiation of power relations as hierarchical has a variety of implications. First, as Fallers (1973:5) argues, inequalities of power can be understood only in their cultural context, with reference to their meaning to those involved; for example, aggregated rankings, such as income and education, while important aspects of inequality in some societies, may be irrelevant as sources of power in others (Crumley and Marquardt 1987). Second, and more disturbing, the inability even to think of power wielded and maintained in the absence of hierarchy implies an alarming lack of both imagination and powers of observation. Finally, and most horrifying, the effect of this epistemological error in sociological theory has been to enshrine this single, hierarchical image of social organization
in the popular consciousness. The advantages to capitalist society
of such a metaphor, particularly in association with some Horatio Alger-like mystique of "rising through the ranks" (e.g., Fallers 1973), should be obvious. McGuire conflates complexity with order (1983:911) and by implication--through the misunderstanding of inequality--order with hierarchy and hierarchy with power. Increased complexity, then, is positively correlated with hierarchization (1983:107). Complexity and hierarchy are defined in terms of one another. Gregory Johnson, in "Organizational Structure and Scalar Stress" (1982), also has equated complexity and hierarchy, albeit by a rather different route. He argues that group size determines decision making  effectiveness, and that effectiveness is maintained despite increasing numbers of individuals through the emergence of successive levels of leadership. Although scale is nowhere defined, I assume that Johnson would define scale(s) as recognizable levels of decision making, that is, to use his terms, nodes of information exchange
, collection, and distribution. I have several difficulties with Johnson's analysis. The use of studies of group dynamics borrowed from sociology and management theory--even when counterbalanced with less than convincing !King examples--seems a particularly inappropriate means by which one might model behavior with reference to decision making; both participants' and researchers' expectations would ensure the emergence of a hierarchy. Such a severe bias would render crosscultural comparison useless. This also troubles Johnson (1982:395), and he admits that "human groups with little or no evidence of internal hierarchy are very common in the ethnographic and archaeological record." He muses that such groups "must have some mechanism to overcome the scalar-communications stress problem that does not involve what we would normally recognize as hierarchical organization" (1982:396). Given the origins of Johnson's models for decision making and administrative structure, I am troubled by his emphasis on the structure of decision making rather than the decision making process. Although in prehistory such ephemeral proceedings are often lost to us, we are quite regularly comforted by the presence of evidence for the decision itself. Boundaries--military, religious, ethnic, commercial--and connections--the venerable archaeological preoccupation with trade--and their shifts through time reveal changing conceptions and appropriation of the environment and fluctuations in the influence of vested interests. Concentration on the decision making process by considering its physical consequences--a shift in boundaries, for example-- as the resolution of conflicts of vested interests of alliances to mutual advantage in a larger
political arena would, as Colin Renfrew (1986) suggests, offer considerable insight. An emphasis on process would reintroduce the importance both of the individual and of history in studies such as the ones under discussion, which seem strangely lacking of the human element. Johnson's terminology also poses a problem. He defines simultaneous hierarchy, in which "system integration is achieved through the exercise of control and regulatory functions by a relatively small proportion of the population" (1982:396). Sequential hierarchy is described (1982:403) as the "hierarchical organization of a nonhierarchically organized group" (emphasis added.). This means, one supposes, that periodic decisions to move or to divide the group are seen as "hierarchical moments" in an otherwise  nonhierarchical order. He finally confesses, "Evidently something in our anthropological concept of hierarchy is lacking" (1982:403). Despite certain problems with his analysis, Johnson has, in my opinion, pinpointed a central issue to which an adequate solution must be found: the role of time in the definition of complexity. Clive Gamble, in "Hunter-Gatherers and the Origin of States" (1986), also addresses the issue of complexity, although unlike Johnson, he resists the temptation to see hierarchically ordered states as the only cultural systems that might be termed "complex." Along with Barbara Bender (1978), he suggests that "the so-called simple societies of the hunter and gatherer might have possessed similar organizational principles to those of states" (1986:29), examining how ties of variable commitment and duration are established and maintained. Gamble's underlying argument, that complexity must be identified both synchronically and diachronically, is all the more satisfying for his examples: he discusses the importance of alliances (synchronous social complexity) and scheduling (diachronous social complexity). Figure 2 illustrates his metaphors and their complements, bracketed for analysis.
SPACE PACKAGING ALLIANCES]
Figure 2. Gamble's (1986) Metaphors and Their Complements Bracketed for Analysis
It would seem that Gamble has all of the elements of a critique of hierarchy, but he fails to address and examine critically the central epistemological question, namely, is hierarchy complexity? As a result, he follows Johnson into a terminological morass (1986:44-45), losing sight of a way to integrate his ideas about organization and complexity. Finally, Renfrew, John Cherry, and their colleagues (1986) have considered in depth the importance of alliances (Gamble's synchronous social complexity) through what Renfrew terms "peer polity interaction." Problems of integration with the archaeological evidence, particularly in the absence of documentary sources, while of concern, are not as relevant to this discussion as certain other questions they raise. As Cherry (1986:23) points out, there remains no assurance that hierarchies of control may be inferred from site sizes or their inferred territories. Elsewhere in the volume Jeremy
Sabloff (1986:113) warns that Classic period Mayan data, while remarkably complete in many respects, offer no evidence for the  dominance of some centers over others. Both Cherry (1986:24) and Anthony Snodgrass (1986:58) are concerned that peer polity interaction is more descriptive than dynamic; in other words, it fails to address effectively what Gamble would call diachronous social complexity. More importantly, Cherry (1986:44) and David Braun (1986:125) call for the interaction to be in a sense reversible--that it does not inevitably lead to increasingly complex social formations. I have the impression that in these discussions complexity refers to the physical size of the arena of action. As Cherry (1986:44) comments, A more appropriate approach would be to treat [aggression, competition, ambition] as recurrent features of human behaviour, and then to consider the circumstances in which that kind of behavior might be favoured. Discussion Despite considerable differences in approach, McGuire, Johnson, Gamble, and some of the authors in the Renfrew and Cherry volume attempt to "break out" complexity from notions of progress deeply embedded cultural evolutionism in general and the study of the state in particular (Diamond 1974). These authors would seem to concur that all societies are (at least periodically) complex and that the notion of complexity itself should be further disassembled into its component elements. The very definition of the word complex--"hard to separate, analyze, or solve"1--suggests not only a certain endlessness to the task but also general acceptance of normative distinctions between simple and complex, based on culturally and individually variable abilities to recognize pattern. Indeed, it would seem that the difficulty of the exercise has led each author to search for alternative ways of thinking about differences among societies, but all remain reluctant to address the underlying assumptions of their definitions. Implications What is most powerful about the concept of heterarchy is its indeterminacy, its potential, its sense of movement carried to all dimensions. Its alter/other quality unseats rank, answers dogma, alters meaning. It is, quite simply, dangerous. It is not ranked power, it is counterpoised power. In the multiscalar--and here I use scale in the sense of dimension, not in Johnson's sense of level--dialectical relations between ranked and counterpoised power one apprehends process. The ultimate in complexity is not hierarchy but the play between hierarchy and heterarchy: across space, through time, and in the human mind. I now turn to three  examples of this dialectic: spatial, temporal, and cognitive. Spatial. Heterarchical physical structures abound in the natural world. Lava marks an ancient volcanic event; recently deposited river gravels lie beside it, the two now linked both spatially and temporally. They are structures with rules and order, they have histories, and process is frozen in them for us to read. We recognize pattern in rock strata, in soils, in vegetation, in climate. There exists a rich domain which could guide our attempts to find new
structures, new recognitions in social relations. Although systems theory represents an earlier attempt of this sort, it suffers from many of the same criticisms leveled against peer polity interaction: functionalist circularity, positivist hierarchization. Pattern recognition is most robustly developed in the spatial dimension, and because of the strength of this material grounding it is the logical basis for temporal and cognitive studies of the relation between hierarchy and heterarchy. In Burgundy we have studied the dynamic relation of physical and sociohistorical structures through changes in the landscape. These shifts in pattern, both material and cognitive, have been traced for the past two thousand years (Crumley and Marquardt, eds. 1987). Temporal. While notions of scheduling and diachronous social complexity begin to address the questions under discussion, a variety of examples at different scales and in various domains of analysis would be of great assistance. A single example, drawn from a more "macro" spatial field and taking up questions of changing function and meaning follows. The periodic purging of "foreign cults" from imperial Rome is well documented. Despite a polytheistic milieu, the Roman state was concerned that subversive challenges to authority be repressed--particularly those which were both political and religious in nature. The heterarchically organized religious movement called Christianity was perceived as particularly dangerous, a politically active revitalization movement led by a charismatic whose crucifixion by the state only fueled resolve. A heterarchical organizational structure enabled Christianity to survive the collective action of a number of vested interests--administrative, religious, and military hierarchies working in concert. When Roman power waned due to an increasing inability to integrate a variety of heterarchical elements, both those within the Roman central state apparatus and those appended to the Roman state through conquests, the structure of Christianity became increasingly hierarchical. Although I am not a scholar of Church history, it would appear that an analysis of the Church from the standpoint of its organizational structure(s) and changing strategies  of negotiation and alliance would offer a key to its longevity in Western Culture
. Cognitive. Perhaps the most provocative feature of the dialectical relation between hierarchical and heterarchical structures is that from the standpoint of perception--the observer's or the participant's--they may coexist in a complex relation. An example from David Freidel's (1986) analysis of warfare, status, and sacrifice in Classic Maya
society illustrates this relation. The genesis of the royal line at the site of Palenque (Mexico) was the birth of triplets, the first- and second-born of which were heroic twin brothers; the third was not represented as human except when living rulers impersonated him on ritual occasions. Collectively, these triplets are termed the Palenque Triad (Berlin 1962; Kelley 1965; Schele 1976), which certainly deserves more of an explanation of their complicated iconography than space or expertise enables me to offer. Briefly, however, the twins are born of the sacrificed head of their father, who spits on the hand of their mother and impregnates her. In hell the twins sacrifice and rejuvenate one another, and in practice Maya rulers sacrificed their sons and brought them back to life as their brothers. Freidel (!986:98) interprets the iconography as follows: This cycle of sacrifice and rebirth allows brothers to stand in relationship to one another as parent to child. It was this lining up of brothers into a hierarchical relationship that allowed the Maya royalty to claim direct descent from them. . . .
The transformation of a statement of brotherhood, a basically egalitarian idea, into a statement of hierarchy allowed the Maya elite to celebrate the existence of elite status overtly. . . . At the same time, the principle of brotherhood was maintained as the relationship between dynasties within the Maya lowlands. This was a reiteration of equality at the inter-polity level, tied to a charter of inequality within polities. (emphasis mine) This use of ritual and symbol to maintain legitimacy through the simultaneous reiteration and denial of hierarchy is not all that rare. The Athenian state, medieval Europe, and many Western democratic constitutions enshrine in one dimension and contradict in another. Such profound structural contradictions, both of dimension and of scale, eventually may offer us a means to study both process and complexity.  Conclusions I am suggesting an explicitly material, historical, cognitive strategy for the study of differences and similarities among human groups. I employ the term "strategy" in Perry Anderson's (1984) sense, and hope that I can stimulate strategic thinking and strategic discussion in bringing process into historical analysis. Since I propose a strategy for study rather than hypotheses for testing, I am, for the moment, free of the responsibility for an exhaustive examination of either complexity or the state. I simply suggest that--like structure--both are metaphors, not models, and we must examine them as such. Note 1. The definition is taken from Webster's Seventh New Collegiate Dictionary. References Allen
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