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Parkin, David (1965) Social structure and social change in a tribally heterogeneous East African city ward. PhD thesis. SOAS University of London. DOI:

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The purpose of this thesis is to describe the prestige ranking of groups and persons in an urban African local community. On the one hand, this system of stratification is largely based on the normal urban differentiation of migrants into occupational categories. On the other hand, rural tribal structures alter the precise nature of the system between migrants of different tribes. Migrants of politically uncentralised, segmentary lineage tribes are distinguished from those of centralised tribes. Among the former the strong agnatic principle defines relatively highly solidary groups of kin, clan, and fellowtribesmen. Among centralised tribesmen a more bilateral kinship emphasis renders these groups less solidary and even insignificant. This difference in group solidarity is reflected in the existence of segmentary structures of formal voluntary associations among migrants of segmentary tribes, and in the absence of such associations among those of centralised tribes. There are other associations which are multi-tribal in composition and non-tribal in their aims. The point is taken that most ordinary migrants do not participate in formal voluntary associations. Yet, all these associations, both tribal and non-tribal, appear to symbolise the local system of stratification. They themselves are variously ranked, and appear to reflect a ranking of the groups in which the ordinary migrant is involved. The existence of urban tribal association among segmentary tribespeople is additionally significant in so far as it indicates the sometimes very strong obligations obtaining within corporate groups of kin and fellowtribesmen. A segmentary tribesman who aspires to higher urban statuses experiences more frequent and intense conflicts of role-expectation than a centralised tribesman. Non-tribal associations are common to both these sets of tribespeople. In this and other respects they reflect norms of neighbourhood and local relations. Networks of neighbourhood and local relations have special significance for a status aspirant of a segmentary tribe. Firstly, they provide him with a cross-cultural yardstick for evaluating his obligations to kin and fellow tribesmen. Secondly, they are the means by which he can indicate his lessening of such obligations as he becomes socially mobile.

Item Type: Theses (PhD)
SOAS Departments & Centres: SOAS Research Theses > Proquest
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 16 Oct 2018 15:06

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