Only in recent years has the political role of the graded society been seriously questioned. In the earlier literature this dimension was either ignored or else it was merely assumed that the graded society was the basis for power and authority. Thus Deacon noted ‘Authority is vested in the higher grades of the institution, and those who belong to such grades may be regarded as having in some sense the position of chiefs’ ( Deacon 1934:273 )1. The later work of Allen ( 1969, 1972 ) W. Rodman ( 1973 ) and Blackwood ( 1977, 1981 ) leads us to query such assumptions.