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Q: Can a society exist without economic organisation?Discuss.
A: There has never been a society without coercion, and without some form of social contract. The forms these take can vary wildly, and depend a lot on the local conditions that caused the development of that society, but there is still always coercion. [ Even in Malinowski's Crime and Custom in Savage Society1, the first anthropological book to properly recognise that law could exist outside the
state, there was clear coercive force making people obey tribal "law." (Law in inverted comma's as it isn't the same as Western Law in form or nature). Those studies that have found examples of "law" outside the state (I really hate terminonolgy of legal anthropologists if I seem to be using it awkwardly) within Western Civilisation, these groups are always based on some form of coercion. Moore's The Semi-Autonomous Social Field as an Appropriate Subject of Study2 identifies a system of "non state law" in the textile industry in New York. However, it is based firmly on coercion, both in the form of gift giving, and in the form of the Union Representative not enforcing his legal powers. Nowhere in the study of legal systems that exist outside the state, has there been a situation without coercion. In the Malinowski study it was a case of "do as we say, or go and try and live by yourself. On an undeveloped Island. Oh and never see your friends again." Social exclusion, especially in tribal places such as Somalia, is a major punishment. (I refer you to the European Court of Human Rights Case Salah Sheekh v Netherlands3, concerning refugee status, where it was found that he could not be returned to a "safe" area of Somalia as this would leave him outside the protection of his tribe). So that is my view on the social contract. It cannot not exist. There is always a form of coercion overriding whatever voluntary behavior exists. In a lot of places where violence was not used as the coercion, this took place because there where other options which are just as effective and just as compelling. In the west, without a tribal society, and in short of forming actual communes (and becoming communist) it is not really possible to see how the social contract can be constructed outside a state. ]
Expert answered|koronamel88|Points 30|
Asked 4/16/2013 5:37:22 AM
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