The material culture and social institutions of the simpler peoples: an essay in correlation

Chapman and Hall London Published In Pages: ??
By Hobhouse, L. T., Wheeler, G. C., Ginsberg, M.


An early cross-cultural study that sought to establish correlations between "stages" of economic culture and a variety of different social and political institutions, such as form of government and justice, marriage and kinship, and behaviors during warfare.


Sample Used Coded Data Comment
Ethnographic Reports

Hypotheses (16)

"We have then clear evidence of an advance in organised government accompanying economic development"(51)Supported
"[There is a] decline in the proportion of cases of 'government slight or nil' and a rise in the proportion of cases where 'tribal government' is found as we ascend the economic grades" (52)Supported
"There is . . . [an] advance in the public enforcement of justice [as opposed to retaliation or private justice] as we ascend the scale [of economic development]" (61, 75)Supported
"Among the [lower economic types] the number of cases in which tribal offenses alone are publicly punished is overwhelmingly greater than the number in which private offenses alone are so punished, while in the higher [economic] grades the relation is reversed" (79)Supported
"Broadly, if we omit the intermixed cases, we see that the maternal principle [residence and descent] predominates among the hunting peoples, the paternal in the pastoral stage, while among agricultural peoples the two are neatly balanced" (153)Supported
"Thus the evidence does not make for the association of monogamy with the lowest [economic] culture . . . we find it here and there in every grade of culture . . . polygamy is the rule throughout the uncivilised world, extending with industrial development" (162-163)Supported
Consideration given for the bride as a basis of marriage and particularly outright purchase increases markedly with the advance of economic culture (155)Supported
Bride's consent to marriage has a curvilinear relationship to economic development. Consent not required falls from the Lower to Higher Hunters, rises in Middle Agriculture and falls again with Agriculture. It rises sharply for pastoral peoples (158)Not Supported
Divorce, whether by will of either party, consent of both, or subject to bride price adjustments, is unrelated to economic development (165)Supported
The figures show a regular increase of public control of marriage and public punishment for adultery with advancing economic development (166)Supported
"[There is] a fairly constant tendency to a greater chastity [with increased economic development]" (169)Supported
"the practice of killing all or some of the vanquished [in war] predominates and is nearly constant until we reach the highest agricultural stage, where it drops by nearly 50% . . . this is the reverse side of the equally sudden rise in the practice of enslavement" (233)Supported
"The increase [in serfs or slaves] is quite uniform from [economic] grade to grade" (236)Supported
"[There is] a rise [of nobility] in the higher cultures and also a slightly greater tendency to distinction of rank among the Pastoral than among the Agricultural peoples" (236)Supported
"The communal principle predominates in the lower stages of culture and retains a small preponderance among the pastoral peoples and that private ownership tends to increase in the higher Agricultural stages" (253)Supported
"The position of women is unfavorable at all stages [of economic development--from hunters to pastoralists and agriculturalists]" (173)UNKNOWN

Documents and Hypotheses Filed By:mas