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A term used to describe the political system of societies without centralized state authority—such as, for example, traditional African lineage political systems (see J. Middleton and D. Tait, Tribes without Rulers, 1958). Authority is wielded at the level of the clan, lineage, or lineage segment. For this reason these ‘headless’ societies are often referred to by the alternative term ‘segmented’.

Subjects: Sociology.

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