Wealth, Authority, and Prestige in the Ica Valley, Peru

By Eugene A. Hammel | Go to book overview

SOCIAL CLASS: THE FORMAL ASPECT

THE SOCIETY of Ica is not a homogeneous unit and has not been for at least 500 years; it has been one stratified principally along lines of wealth and political power. Further, these two attributes have often gone hand in hand, so that riches have served as a means of obtaining political power, and political power as a means of obtaining wealth.

As was indicated in the Introduction, however, economic and political power are not the only dimensions of a social hierarchy; the differential distribution of prestigeful behavior may also be employed as an analytic variable. Nevertheless, many of the features of varyingly prestigeful behavior which seem important in the social history of Ica seem to derive from the two other attributes mentioned, and some are frank symbols of them. Thus, it seems most economical to attempt a preliminary formal definition of the social classes of Ica at different points in history by using just the dimensions of political and economic power and to complement that definition in a following chapter with a fuller description of other behavioral patterns.22

Two cautionary remarks must be made at the outset. First, there is the commonplace that overlapping exists between the classes of the scheme proposed. Only in rare cases is a social class self-contained and homogeneous, either in its membership or in terms of the diagnostic criteria used. Second, we know relatively little about the details of the Ica class system in the past. Our knowledge is best for the modern period (ca. 1910-1956), reasonably good for the colonial era ( 1533-1820) but almost nonexistent for the rest of the nineteenth century. The uneven coverage of our information and the flexible nature of the system itself make it necessary that we describe the history of class structure in a flexible way. While treatment of the material is necessarily mechanical, it should be understood that some variation is admitted.

____________________
22
For pertinent comparative material and theoretical discussions, see Goldschmidt , 1950; Beals, 1953; Gillin, 1947b; Davidson, 1947; Hawthorn, 1948; Crevenna, 1951; Alvarez Andrews, 1951; Wolf, 1955; Wagley and Harris, 1955; Foster, 1953b; Hammel, Ms-b, -c, -d.

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Wealth, Authority, and Prestige in the Ica Valley, Peru
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page 3
  • Contents 5
  • Preface 7
  • Introduction 9
  • General Description 13
  • Agriculture and Husbandry 19
  • Industry 32
  • Transportation and Trade 41
  • Social Class: the Formal Aspect 47
  • Social Class: Correlates of Formal Position 56
  • Conclusions 88
  • Bibliography 99
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