Village head

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A village head or headman is a person (nearly always a man) in many village–based tribal societies who functions as a leader but whose coercive authority is severely limited or nonexistent. The existence of a headman is usually associated with societies without complex political structures. If a headman wants something done, he must be lead by example and persuasion; he lacks the authority to issue orders. He can only persuade, harangue, and try to influence public opinion. For example, if he wants people to clean up the central plaza in preparation for a feast, he has to start sweeping the plaza himself, hoping that his covillagers will take the hint and relieve him. The headman may be called on as a mediator who listens to both sides when conflicts erupt within the village. He will give an opinion and advice but if a disputant is unsatisfied, the headman can’t do anything. He has no power to back the decisions he makes and no way to impose punishments. Like the band leader, he is first among equals.

Examples of headmanship have been observed among the Zuni <ref>Ruth Benedict. Patterns of Culture, New American Library, 1934</ref>, !Kung, and Mehinacu<ref>Marvin Harris. Our Kind, Harper Perennial, 1989</ref>, among others.

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Village head

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