, an acephalous society (from the Greek
ἀκέφαλος "headless") is a society which lacks political leaders or hierarchies. Such groups are also known as non-stratified
societies. Typically these societies are small-scale,
organized into bands or tribes that make decisions through consensus decision making
rather than appointing permanent chiefs or kings.
When these societies do not possess distinctions of rank, they are described as egalitarian
In scientific literature covering native African societies and the effect of European colonialism
on them the term is often used to describe groups of people living in a settlement with "no government in the sense of a group able to exercise effective control over both the people and their territory". In this respect the term is also often used as synonymous to "stateless society".
[Daannaa, p61; G.N. Ayittey: "STATELESS SOCIETIES: The Igbo, the Fulani, the Somali", A New Nigeria, http://seunfakze.wordpress.com/2012/02/21/stateless-societies-the-igbo-the-fulani-the-somali-by-prof-g-n-ayittey/]
Such societies are described as consensus-democratic in opposition to the majority-democratic systems of the West.
The Igbo Nation
in West Africa is alleged to be an acephalous or egalitarian society.
Cultural Anthropology Terms
Category:Anthropological categories of peoples